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Rehabilitation Therapy Excellence Fund

Rehabilitation Therapy research that supports people across the healthcare system

When we think of those who benefit from research in rehabilitation therapy, patients in recovery are usually front of mind. However, there is another group of people who need support—their caregivers.

The partnership came together when Dr. Fakolade, a physiotherapist and rehabilitation science researcher, and Dr. Bobbette, an occupational therapist, found a shared interest in the well-being of caregivers after respective clinical and research experiences with neurological conditions and developmental disabilities during their graduate studies at Queen’s. “We connected through a passion and desire to support not only the health and well-being of people living with disabilities, but their caregivers as well. We recognized the essential roles that caregivers take on and the risk of overlooking one’s own health in lieu of caring for another” says Dr. Bobbette.

The role of the caregiver bridges many gaps in the Canadian healthcare system. Though access to professional healthcare providers remains paramount, much of the recovery and care processes for those experiencing disability are managed on the home front, and most commonly by family members. “In many ways, caregivers reduce the strains on healthcare systems that are associated with recovery and chronic health conditions. But often out of their own pockets, and to their physical and emotional detriment” says Dr. Fakolade.

Drs. Bobbette and Fakolade are now preparing to conduct a series of focus groups and a Canada-wide survey involving caregivers, health care providers, and representatives of organizations that offer support to caregivers in order to discern the most pressing needs of this population. “We want to learn from caregivers firsthand and receive direction on the kinds of well-being supports and resources that are needed,” says Dr. Bobbette.

Research that helps practitioners, service providers, and policymakers better understand the needs of caregivers has the potential to lead to better services and policy changes that would support this critical and underrecognized group of people. Not only does addressing these issues help individual caregivers feel seen, heard, and valued, but it in turn promotes their health and wellbeing, and has implications for care-recipients and society. “When you have access to a family caregiver, it significantly improves your quality of life. Moreover, when you have access to a caregiver who is receiving the support they need to function healthily and perform their caregiving role successfully, care recipients experience incredible improvements in all aspects of their lives. That’s what we’re working towards” says Dr. Fakolade.

Support research that has a real impact on people, populations and health systems when you contribute to the Rehabilitation Therapy Excellence Fund.