By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Quebec government recently adopted Bill 56, acknowledging for the first time the importance of family caregivers and promising to create a better support network in the future, but not everyone is completely on board.
Stanley Lake, president of Sunshine House in Mansonville, is a former caregiver. He took care of his daughter Mikala, who has cerebral palsy and the mental age of a small child, for 31 years. Lake believes there also needs to be an emphasis on life after family care.
“At some point the caregiver can no longer take care of the family member that needs the care and then that child, let’s say, or young adult, needs to go someplace and hopefully stay in the community and have access to community activities,” he said.
Lake, alongside several other families, built the Sunshine House in 2014 — a non-profit organization residence for four intellectually and physically disabled community members. A caregiver provided by the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS is there at all times throughout the week.
But it is difficult to find people interested in taking on such a challenging position, he explained, even for the Eastern Townships’ local health authority. Not only does the government need to provide more resources, Lake continued, it also needs to offer more incentive.
“The next logical step in what the bill proposes would be to augment the pay, so that you can attract and retain caregivers in facilities such as ours or in the elder facilities,” he said.
According to Almut Ellinghaus, Lake’s partner and Sunshine House secretary, they sometimes hired a caregiver to come to their home as an extra set of hands to help out with Mikala. However, they often needed to increase the caregiver’s salary in order to retain them.