Advocating For Caregivers

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via In The News
In The News
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

“Let’s put the care back into healthcare,” says Scott Williams. Scott is a once cared for patient turned patient advocate. In his TED talk The Hidden Role Informal Caregivers Play In Health Care Scott discusses how anyone can become a caregiver and their role in society deserves to be recognized.

Screenshot from Scott's TED Talk video of him talking to the audience

Scott had Lyme Disease as a teenager. He states that he owes his life to his father who did everything he could to ensure that his son had the best care possible. Scott proclaims that his father’s stubbornness and commitment to being a carer is what motivated him to advocate for others. Scott states that without informal caregivers (like his father) society’s health and social systems would crumble.

“The closer I looked the more I saw carers providing the same kind of support my father provided to me, and playing a crucial role in the healthcare system.”

There are many demands that caregivers face. “With aging populations, economic instability, healthcare system stress and increased incidence of long-term chronic care needs, the importance, and demand on family caregivers are greater than ever. Carers all over the world are sacrificing their own physical, financial, and psychosocial well-being to provide care for their loved ones,” says Scott. It is important that a carer’s own needs be met because they are often stretched to their breaking point providing support for others. Scott refers to unpaid caregiving as the ‘invisible backbone’ for our health and social systems all over the world.

The tasks that caregivers do may include but are not limited to personal care, medical care, and emotional support. According to Scott, the field of caregiving goes unrecognized partly because people consider a caregiver to be a medical professional.

“And while the importance of these millions of silent carers cannot be denied, they’ve largely been unnoticed by governments, healthcare systems and private entities.”

Caregivers can face personal challenges. For instance, some caregivers have financial issues because they are not able to hold a full-time job. Caregivers relationships can suffer with their family and friends because they are focused on caring for someone else.

Scott states that there has been an improvement in the recognition of caregivers around the world. “The International Alliance of Carers Organizations (IACO) was formed to bring together carer groups from all over the world to provide strategic direction, facilitate information sharing, as well as actively advocate for carers on an international level.”

“The objective is to empower caregivers to improve their own health and well being and bring about a greater balance to their lives.”

Scott concludes his TED talk by saying, “But to really put the care back in healthcare, what’s needed is a deep societal, structural change. And this can only happen through a change of mindset.”

Be sure to check out the full video of Scott’s TED talk by clicking on the original post.

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