Supporting a Circle of Care

This month, we are shining a spotlight on Supporting a Circle of Care: A Culturally Informed Support Group and Toolkit for Indigenous Caregivers of People Living with Dementia.

Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Dementia Community Investment Fund, Circle of Care is a project within NWAC’s Dementia program area.

Supporting a Circle of Care

The project was created to provide education and support for Indigenous caregivers of people living with dementia. The incidence of dementia has increased dramatically in Indigenous communities over the last decade. In these communities, dementia care is commonly provided within the person’s own home, with caregiving typically provided by a family member. Despite being a very rewarding experience, caregiving comes with its own set of challenges.

The Circle of Care project focuses on the caregiver. It aims to provide support and information to caregivers who need to continue taking care of their loved one while prioritizing their own needs and well-being. The Circle of Care Toolkit helps caregivers plan ahead, record important information, and document aspects of their journey with their loved one. It also provides tips and tricks on self-care, understanding their loved one’s needs, and developing a support network.

While providing care for a loved one can be rewarding and offer an opportunity to become closer, it can be demanding on the caregiver’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Caregivers frequently report having sleep issues, anxiety, depression, burnout, feelings of frustration, financial challenges, and feeling socially isolated.

Indigenous caregivers may lack essential information and knowledge on dementia. They may not know how to access culturally safe supports and services to help them provide care and also cope with the stresses of caregiving.

Through the toolkit and support groups, the Circle of Care project aims to improve the knowledge and experience of the caregiver and in turn, improve the care provided to the person living with dementia and their experience.

The engagement portion of the Circle of Care is central to the project and ensures the inclusion of Indigenous values, beliefs, and traditions. The peer support group sessions have allowed caregivers to learn about dementia and discuss problems of caregiving. Participants receive traditional information and perspectives on dementia and caregiving and have an opportunity to talk with other Indigenous caregivers who may be having similar experiences.

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