Summer 2017 Vacation Time

Where Next? Workshops

I usually hold workshops twice a year, April and November. However, I'm happy accept invitations to give workshops to groups, organizations and workplaces throughout the year. I also enjoy speaking about my caregiving experience and caregiving issues. Contact me at

Vacation Time

Caregivers need holidays. These are times we regenerate.
Find a stand-in, someone to take over your role while you are away. Someone to look after your parents’ basic needs, health and safety. Someone who will give you peace of mind.
Ideally, this will be a close family member. If you have siblings discuss your need for respite with them. Caregiving usually falls to the adult child who lives closest to the parent. Hopefully other family members are willing to support you and help you take a break. If that is not the case, move on to other solutions.
Sometimes all that's needed is a close neighbour or family friend who will drop in and make sure everything is ok. In more serious cases it's worth it to hire a private caregiver.
Many retirement homes in Manitoba offer short term stays.  A lovely residence with meals included can be an excellent option.  Often seniors are not aware that they have become isolated at home and they really enjoy the social life of the residence.  Many who were once reluctant to consider a move change their minds.
Organize your leave. Important information and documents should be accessible. Ideally your parents will have an up-to-date E.R.I.K. kit on the fridge. If a trip to the hospital is necessary, the caregiver or paramedics can just grab it and go.
It is advisable to give notice of your absence to the doctor, the home care case coordinator, the retirement residence or care home. Also you will want to leave instructions for your substitute and emergency contacts. Create letters that you can reuse whenever you are away.

Sometimes we just crave time alone in our own homes. Take a staycation. I once told everyone that I was thinking of going to the lake for a week and then I just stayed home. It was heaven. 

May 2017 Keep Up with Changes

Important Changes for Manitoba Caregivers. 

Take time to be informed about these changes.  
  • Primary Caregiver Tax Credit
  • Patient Advocate Agreement
  • Hospital Services
  • Short-Term Intensive Home Care Service

Primary Caregiver Tax Credit

Manitoba’s Primary Caregiver Tax Credit provides a refundable credit of up to $1,400 a year to people who act as primary caregivers for spouses, relatives, neighbours or friends who live at home in Manitoba. For this tax credit, people requiring care must be assessed at Level 2 or higher under the Manitoba Home Care Program guidelines.
2017 Budget Changes:
1. The maximum credit is $1400 per year even for caregivers who are caring for more than one person.

2. Retroactive claims prior to 2017 are not permitted. Eligibility now begins in the year of the application.  However, if an application is submitted in 2017 but the credit is not claimed until 2019, the caregiver may still claim the credit for 2017 and 2018.

Further questions? FAQ's About the Primary Caregiver Tax Credit

Patient Advocate Agreement

Previously called the Patient Advocate Form, this extremely useful document now has the approval of the WRHA. The form has some logical revisions and a disclaimer. Be sure to use this!
Download the agreement here:   Patient Advocate Agreement

Hospital Services

Emergency Room Services 24/7
  • Health Sciences Centre
  • St. Boniface Hospital 
  • Grace Hospital

Urgent Care Centres 24/7
  • Seven Oaks Hospital
  • Victoria Hospital

Seven Oaks will also  offer specialty care for out-patient renal services, and will offer elective endoscopy procedures, as well as rehabilitation and transitional care for older patients.
Victoria will also continue to offer specialty care in day surgery and expanded in-patient mental health services.
Misericordia Health Centre -  Urgent Care will close and that space will be used for intravenous therapy.  
Concordia Hospital the emergency department will close. It will now offer general and geriatric rehabilitation services and transitional care for people waiting to get into personal care homes.
Deer Lodge Centre will get more resources for special need residents, including those with dementia.
Riverview Health Centre will also continue to specialize in Alzheimer and dementia care, respite services and respiratory chronic care. 

The transition is expected to take 6 to 24 months.

Short-term Intensive Home Care Service 

The WRHA hopes to reduce the number of seniors discharged from hospital straight into a personal care home by about half through the creation of a new, short-term intensive home care service. The goal is to have this enhanced home care services program up and running in six months' time.

April 2017 Caregivers Deserve Better.

And Then I Got Angry

No one knows the child like the parent. 
No one knows the vulnerable parent like the adult child.

Consider my experiences. I would like to tell you that these experiences are uncommon but they are not.

I told my mother's family doctor that she could no longer remember how to bake a potato or to find the light switch in her hallway. I asked for his help.  He responded by asking her how her memory was. She said, "Oh it's fine." He looked at me and said, "Then we don't need to discuss this now”.

I had no idea what to do next. I didn't know that I could have referred my mother to the Geriatric Assessment Program (204.982.0140). I struggled to convince her that she needed help. As her stress increased she began taking more little “nerve pills”.

Two months later she had a fall and ended up at Misericordia Urgent Care. The doctor asked me if I knew that my mother was on three different benzodiazepines. Huh? Benzodiazepines she said cause confusion and falling in the elderly. Later, I checked mom's medicine cabinet. I found 2 bottles of 100 sedatives labeled "Take As Directed' and a bottle of sleeping pills. At a follow-up appointment with her family doctor, I told him what I had learned about these meds. His response was, "Well, that's what a layperson might think."

I made an appointment with a pharmacist to go over my mom's prescriptions. He validated my concerns, recommended some changes and arranged to blister pack her pills.

A year later she spent several weeks in hospital. About 3 weeks after she was admitted I noticed that she was becoming extremely agitated. I asked to see what medications she was on. Her anxiety medication had been stopped by the admitting doctor. I could have told them that this anti-depressant was not for depression but for a lifetime anxiety issue. But no one asked.

I took me two weeks to convince them to restart this medication. I persisted until I managed to speak to a doctor in person.

A week later I got a phone call from the hospital at 2 AM to tell me my mother had passed away. At 2:15 I got another call to tell me it was a mistake! Her roommate had passed away.

I became determined to find out how to get better care for my mom.
  • I made an appointment with the hospital social worker to get some advice on how to navigate the system. She could have helped so much if I had known to go to her earlier.  Her job is to be the liaison between the family and the hospital.
  • I found A Guide For Caregivers published by the Manitoba Government.
  • I discovered the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety site. I read Advocating for Yourself and Others . I found the Advocacy Toolkit.  I learned how to become my mom’s patient advocate. I wished I had read all this before we were in a  crisis.


NO… is not always an acceptable answer.
Here are 5 responses for challenging situations.
1.       Respond - Really? That’s interesting. I was hoping for a different solution.
2.       Express Concern – My concern is ….
3.       Ask about Alternatives - Are there alternatives we could consider?
4.       Request an Explanation – Can you help me understand your decision?
5.       Persist - I’d like to meet again to discuss this further.

If you aren't making progress, call for back-up. Take someone with you who can add leverage to your position.

Never let the attitude of others be an obstacle to getting the best care possible.