Mother sees issues with paid family caregiving

Diane
Diane Crocker
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Dana Mouland, left, and his mother Miranda, who is a former home-care worker with 19 years experience, is unable to look after her son as his full-time carer because, she says, government legislation won’t allow it.

CORNER BROOK — Miranda Mouland thinks the new paid family caregiving option the provincial government plans to launch next year will be good for some and not for others.

Health Minister Susan Sullivan presented details of the program in a ministerial statement in the House of Assembly earlier this week.

She said the paid family caregiving option for seniors and adults with disabilities has been designed with the objective of making it easier for these people to hire family members.

Beginning in January, training will be provided to appropriate staff of the regional health authorities who oversee the Home Support Program. Then in March, the option to hire a family member will be made available to 250 new home support clients.

“I’m happy that they’re going to do it, but I guess they got to make a lot of changes to the system and they’re going to have to implement some good rules and regulations for it before it will work properly,” said Mouland.

Re-approved every three months

The Hawke’s Bay mother is currently being paid for 40 hours a week to care for her son, Dana Mouland. Getting that pay didn’t come easy and Mouland has to be re-approved every three months.

Dana, 39, requires constant care. He was left blind by a stroke nearly four years ago and also has other health issues.

Unable to secure a full-time caregiver in their hometown, Mouland, a qualified home-care worker, left the two jobs she was working to care for her son.

“There was nobody here with him,” she said, adding Dana would have ended up in a chronic care facility if she wasn’t there to care for him.

“He really was a candidate for (chronic care), but then if somebody could (care) for him home, why take him and do that to him?”

It’s been hard for Mouland, 67, to be the sole caregiver for her son. That’s because her caring for her son never stops.

“I’m getting paid for 40 hours and I’m here 24 hours a day right around the clock. I’m coping so-so, so far,” she said. “But I’m starting to get tired.”

Even if she could find someone to look after Dana for just a short time, Mouland would have to pay them out of her 40 hours. She also doesn’t have the option of availing of respite care.

In terms of the new program, Mouland said “it’s a ticklish situation.”

“There’s a lot of abuse of the system right now and everyone is going to be looking to go to work with their families, and rightly so. Probably family should be working for family.”

But, she said, some will look to take advantage of the program and this will lead to more abuse.

Mouland is confident she’ll continue to be paid to care for her son, but the new program won’t apply to those who currently provide unpaid care.

“It has always been our intention in terms of paid family care to ensure that people in Newfoundland and Labrador who are looking for care have another option,” said Sullivan on Tuesday.

The Health minister said there are two options in place now through traditional self-managed home support, and home support offered through agencies.

“What we’re giving now is another choice,” said Sullivan. “We heard clearly from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that they wanted the ability to be able to hire family.”

Sullivan said it is also not the intention of the new program to displace people who are working in the field now by instead paying a family member.

“This is for people who truly need home support and they want the option of the choice of a family person to provide that.”

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Newfoundland and Labrador

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