Caregiver Information and Support, formerly The Caregiver Information Centre, was initiated as a result of a decision by the Saskatoon Council on Aging board in late 1997. A committee was formed and their duties included investigating what problems caregivers were facing and determining if solutions could be found for these problems. The committee, consisting of several caregivers as well as representatives of the Health Region and some professionals, was struck in early 1998. Through extensive interviews with caregivers in Saskatoon it became evident to the committee that their prime concern should be to establish a proper means of communicating with caregivers, and to provide them with support. This, then, was the birth of Caregiver Information and Support, which occurred in early 2000.
We have, therefore, been in operation for over ten years and have put in place a number of programs. The very first was to add caregiver information to the Resource Centre previously developed by the Saskatoon Council on Aging. It was also realized that many were not free to run downtown every time they had a problem, so a phone line dedicated to receiving calls from caregivers was established. In 2004 a “Guide to Caregiving” was written and widely distributed, and has since been revised and expanded. The same year we held our first Caregiver Forum, and these have been continued twice a year since, as they have proven to be a very valuable method of communicating with caregivers. The overall theme of these forums is “who cares for the caregiver” and we have had a great variety of speakers, panels, videos, etc on many different topics. Attendance at the forums has ranged from about forty to nearly ninety on one occasion. In 2010 we instituted caregiver seminars. These are held in the evening, and thanks to a partnership with The Edwards Family Centre have been another means of getting information out. Caregiver Information and Support also offers one-on-one professional counselling provided by the Saskatoon Health Region. We have also tried various ways of getting caregivers together on an informal basis simply for a bit of socializing and an opportunity to share their experiences with other caregivers.