The Canadian Home and Community Care Market, Family Caregiving and Aging Ecosystem

Among the many social changes facing Canadian society, one of the most important is the need for informal care for people with disabilities and older adults with some mobility and long-term health problems.

Family Caregiving is one of the fastest growing demographic groups in Canada and it is changing our social and economic landscape.  It is estimated that in 2018, over 8.5 million Canadians will be family caregivers!

When the age was set for old age pensions in the 1940’s, the average life expectancy was 59.  If we adjust for current life expectancy, the current age of eligibility would be 85.  The increase in life expectancy has created a whole new consumer market.

In the past, consumer marketers could assume the preferences of 18-25 year-olds would drive their market.  This market has now switched to the baby boomers.  They have buying market power for all consumer products.  They also represent 70% of the family caregiving market.

Family Caregiving is a new and powerful market; yet, not one of your competitors, indeed no national company, owns all or part of this burgeoning market.

Every family caregiving situation presents its own special challenges – whether care is supplied by a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, or a friend and whatever the disease or disability that gives rise to that care.

Family Caregivers provide the majority of the day-today assistance required for daily living, as well as some medical/nursing care for their loved ones.  Some family caregivers live at home with the care recipient, others offer care after work, on the weekends, or via long distance.

Among the many tasks, their caregiving duties include:

  • Administering medication and performing physical therapy
  • Feeding, bathing, dressing and toileting
  • Assisting with cognitive and memory skills
  • Providing mobility assistance
  • Managing finances
  • Organizing the care recipient’s care as an informal ‘case manager’, including co-ordinating among the array of services and the many health and community care professionals who provide care, arranging transportation, locating needed resources, and handling the financial and administrative aspects of medical care.
  • Modifying the home for aging in place
  • Providing information resources and other support to care recipients who don’t live nearby
  • Grocery and other shopping
  • Companion and advisor for physician visits
  • Offering emotional support and much, much more

Governments, Disease Associations, NGO’s and other health and home care organizations conduct some research and deal with advocacy issues.  However, shrinking funding and the fact that home and community care is not part of the Federal Canada Health Act does not make this burgeoning sector a priority on many of the provincial or federal government’s agenda.  The real challenge of education and information to this growing market is just too great for volunteers and concerned family members to deal with on their own.

This provides corporate Canada to not only increase consumer awareness of the issues surrounding family caregiving, aging and home and community care, but to become a champion of this current and potential customer while providing some true corporate responsibility.  It is also a true exercise in social enterprise by creating programs, products and services and new channels to assist family caregivers.

Some Facts about Canadian Caregivers

  • There are over 8.5 million family caregivers in Canada - 33% of the adult population
  • Family Caregivers provide over 65% of the home care services in the country
  • If we paid them an hourly wage, the value of their services is over $22 Billion a year
  • 75% of family caregivers are women, although the male family caregiver base is growing
  • 70% of family caregivers are between the ages of 40 – 59
  • 65% of family caregivers do not get help from family or friends
  • 69% of family caregivers say that frustration and stress are their most frequently felt emotions
  • 61% don’t know where to purchase home care related products or services
  • Family Caregivers rate loss of leisure pursuits, change in family dynamics and feelings of isolation as the most burdensome aspects of family caregiving
  • Virtually one-half of all family caregivers have suffered prolonged depression
  • More people will enter long-term care facilities because of family caregiver burnout rather than a worsening of their condition

10 Big Challenges facing Family Caregivers Today

Challenge 1

Scheduling & Planning
Dealing with the array or services, healthcare professionals, hospitals, clinics and multiple medications.

Need: Personal Health Record; medication schedules; drug list/interactions; a way to deal with medical appointments; a directory of medical personnel; support care; emergencies; transportation and respite care services.

Challenge 2

Respite Care
Continuous responsibility for loved one’s care with no hope for a break.

Need: Respite for the primary caregiver by competent, trustworthy substitutes.

Challenge 3

Countless home and health care questions and no-one to ask.

Need: Access to websites, pharmacists, health care experts familiar with the case who have the time to answer basic questions and provide basic guidance.

Challenge 4

Practical Training
Lack of knowledge about first aid, emergencies and proper ways to care.

Need: Information and training about basic emergency procedures and life-saving techniques.

Challenge 5

Navigating the System
Lack of skills and experience to navigate the array of services in the health care system.

Need: Assistance from patient advocates, family caregivers, case managers that doctors have necessary patient records and information and that the patient gets and has what she/he needs.

Challenge 6

Financial and Legal
Lack of knowledge and understanding about how to manage someone else’s money (How to create a trust.  How to keep funds liquid over time.  etc.).

Need:  Financial advice regarding their loved one’s care and estate; legal advice on living wills, power-of-attorney

Challenge 7

Insurance coverage confusion – what is covered and what is not

Need: Information and access to an insurance professional who is familiar with long-term and other coverage issues which meet long term medication and home care needs not covered under the Canada Health Act.

Challenge 8

Workplace Challenges
Difficulty in keeping up with work duties

Need: Flexible work schedules of family caregivers when a loved one is chronically ill or dying

Challenge 9

Products and Services
Difficulty in finding products and services, both consumer and trade, which are inherent in providing home care as a family caregiver.

Need: A credible one-stop resource for everything a family caregiver buys – from prepared meals to bathroom safety devices; travel to banking; legal to insurance; over-the-counter products to long-term care facilities.

Challenge 10

Mental Health
Burnout, Despair, Depression, Isolation, Stress

Need: Ongoing, ever-present support and caring, being recognized as being an important part of the care continuum.

To create a family caregiver focused marketing and content development plan or to request a free consultation, contact Don Fenn or Stuart Teather.

Don Fenn

Stuart Teather
905 833 6200 Ex. 27
905 833 6200 Ex. 23

Over 15 years of family caregiving practical marketing experience.

We can help.