There’s a very high chance that you or someone you know is an unpaid caregiver. More than 8.1 million Canadians are unpaid caregivers who provide mental, physical, or emotional support to a family member, friend, or neighbour according to Statistics Canada.
On June 25, 2023, our Caregivers in the Hills program hosted an appreciation day for unpaid caregivers at the Monora Park Pavilion in Mono. The event featured workshops for caregivers, speakers, complimentary lunch and refreshments, music, local vendors, and booths set up by various community organizations for caregivers to learn about the different services available to help them.
Heidi Vanderhorst, program lead for Caregivers in the Hills, helped create and develop the program after listening to community feedback, “We heard over and over… caregivers were being questioned why they had to be with their loved one,” said Vanderhorst. She said before the program existed, it felt like caregivers weren’t getting the recognition they deserved.
Now, there are over 150 caregivers registered with Caregivers in the Hills program and we hope more will join as well to gain access to recognition and resources.
Vanderhorst was thrilled with the way Caregiver Appreciation Day turned out. It was wonderful to see the amount of community partners that joined in, and nice to see Ontario Minister of Health and Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones make an appearance.
Most importantly, of course, was the amount of caregivers that attended, “We really just wanted to provide a few hours for them to be the spotlight and have some downtime if possible… we just really wanted to make it a day about them that they could enjoy.” said Vanderhorst.
Caregiving is an often thankless job and we felt it was important to host an appreciation event as a way to say “way to go” and give the thanks to caregivers that they deserve.
Caregivers in the Hills is a program that aims to provide support to, and validate the role of, unpaid caregivers in Dufferin and Caledon. In 2020 HOHCOHT collected recommendations from caregivers in the community to start a caregiver support program. One of the first things it did was create an identification badge program, where any caregiver can apply for a badge that will formally identify them as a caregiver.
“When you’re a caregiver, you go to a lot of medical appointments, a lot of social care appointments, and you have to tell your story over and over again,” explains Tracy Coffin, Executive Director of the HOHCOHT. “What the ID badge does… it lets the doctor, nurse or whoever is working with the individual, know the person is a caregiver and will be able to help and become part of the care team.”
Another part of the Caregivers in the Hills program is a collaboration with local businesses.
When a caregiver shows their badge at a business that’s partnered with the HOHCOHT, they can receive discounts. To see the list of businesses, or to apply for your own caregiver badge, you can visit caregiversinthehills.ca.