Northeastern Ontario's unpaid caregivers now have a provincial helpline for support

New helpline offers around-the-clock telephone support to unpaid caregivers.

Ontario Caregiver Organization sets up 24/7 helpline

According to the Ontario Caregiver Organization, 77 per cent of overburdened family caregivers want one place to go for information and support. (CBC)

A new 24-7 helpline could be the lifeline family caregivers in northeastern Ontario need.

Amy Coupal is CEO of the Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO).

She says 77 per cent of caregivers want one place to go for information and support, and that's why her organization launched the Ontario Caregiver Helpline.

"They can call us, have someone to talk to and explore what resources, information, and supports are available for them locally or virtually," she added.

Coupal says the helpline will be staffed by peer caregivers across Ontario who can provide information about community support groups, respite care, and agencies that are available for different illnesses and conditions.

Coupal says her organization is doing an analysis of the resources and supports that are available in the northeast. She says that where gaps exist, additional programs and services will be developed over time in collaboration with local providers.

According to Coupal, the Ontario Caregiver Organization will also provide online chats and a virtual peer support network.

However, when a caregiver from northeastern Ontario calls the helpline, they may not necessarily be connected with a peer caregiver in the north.

"We do have people answering these calls from across the province," said Coupal." But everyone is accessing the same resources and the same databases," she added. 

The organization also has a bilingual facilitator based out of Sudbury. 

"I think this is a great resource," said Stephanie Leclair. She's the executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Sudbury, Manitoulin, North Bay and Districts.

"We're really glad to see this is 24-7. We hope to work with the OCO to help them with caregiver support," she added.

Leclair says that even in northeastern Ontario's rural areas, this helpline can help caregivers when they're looking for support because it's available around the clock.

The number to call for the Ontario Caregiver Helpline is 1-833-416-2273 (CARE).

Visit Ontario Caregiver Organization for more information. 

With files from Kate Rutherford


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