Over 8 million Canadians provide care to a family member or friend. Many caregivers find it difficult to continue to provide care because they do not have the appropriate supports. Most support programs respond to negative effects of caregiving – eg, anxiety, depression, injury – let’s call that the “cure option”. We heard from caregivers that existing programs do not generally help them to be well and avoid those negative effects – they want a “health promotion option”.

With regard to paid caregivers, they suffer higher injury rates than most workers in other occupational groups. This can be devastating to them and can lead to their withdrawal from caregiving when the need for skilled workers is increasing every day.

Our overarching question is:

How could the healthcare system best provide for a ‘health and wellness’ approach for both paid and family caregivers?

Our past work in this area
We partnered directly with family caregivers at every phase of a ground-breaking research study to identify effective and desired aspects of caregiver education and support programs. We developed 5 promising practices and 20 indicators which were made available through an on-line Caring for Caregivers Resource Centre ( .

In addition, in collaboration with the PaCER program at the University of Calgary O’Brien Institute of Public Health, we have supported caregiver/patient-led research into the experiences of couples as caregiver-patients.

We have also partnered with researchers at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) to investigate a number of areas of paid and unpaid caregivers' health safety - how they can provide care without suffering injury (e.g. when lifting or helping patients move from one place to another). 

Our current work
We are continuing to spread the uptake and use of the promising practices and indicators in the healthcare and support sectors across Canada. Our work is informing the development of the Elizz- All Things Caregiving (, as well as the efforts of the Ontario Caregiver Coalition and the Canadian Caregiver Coalition. Finally, we continue to partner with TRI regarding caregivers' safety, most recently walking on snow and ice. 

Some project overviews

The experiences of patients and caregivers as couples. 
How is the couple relationship affected when couples are dealing together with serious illness or injury?
More information
  • Project summary -- available here
  • Report -- available here.
Promising practices and indicators for caregiver education and support programs
What makes programs useful and effective for caregivers?
More information
  • One page summary of final report -- available here
  • Full report --available here
  • Guide to the promising practices and indicators for caregiver education and support programs -- available here.
  • Technical appendix -- available here
  • Website --
Older People’s Experiences of Self-Care, Family/Friend Caregiving, and Formal Home Care
This research focused specifically on the perspectives and experiences of older people using home care services. 
More information
  • Project summary -- available here.
  • Report -- available here.

Recent highlights
Giosa J, Holyoke P. Caregiving is not a disease: Moving from reactive to proactive supports for family caregivers across the health care system. Healthcare Quartely. 2014;17(3):36-41. Abstract available here

Giosa J, Stolee P, Dupuis S, Mock. SE., Santi S. An Examination of Family Caregiver Experiences during Care Transitions of Older Adults. Canadian Journal on Aging. 2014;FirstView Article (April 2014):1-17. Abstract available here

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