There are over 3.3 million caregivers in Ontario, including more than 500,000 who are under 25 years of age, according to the Ontario Caregiver Organization. All of these caregivers have been impacted by COVID-19.
For families of children and youth with physical disabilities the current lockdown has reduced access to paid caregivers, including those who provide personal support, health care in the home and respite. This means that many families are suddenly providing all personal and health care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without any breaks. This is very stressful and exhausting and it is not clear when there will be any respite for parents and guardians, as schools are closed until at least May 31, 2020.
In response to this extreme situation, many organizations have developed resources to help families. This includes information on:
- COVID-19 signs and symptoms (Public Health Ontario)
- How to provide care in self-isolation (Public Health Ontario Self-Isolation Guide for Caregivers)
- use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at home to protect the health and safety of the child and family (Center for Disease Control (CDC) Using Personal Protective Equipment)
- Virtual on-line meetings of parents and caregivers to share the experience and find support. (Ontario Caregiver Organization Peer Support)
- Developing a caregiver contingency plan (Ontario Caregiver Organization Do you have a Plan?)
- Self care for caregivers, including for their mental health and well being. (Ontario Caregiver Organization, Caregiver Mental Health)
- Family Tips – Supporting Siblings during COVID-19 (Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital)
- Information for parents and caregivers on supporting learning at home during school closures (Ontario Government Learning at Home)
In addition to these provincial resources, many individual community organizations such as local Public Health Units, and the Children Treatment Centers have also developed resources and are hosting virtual parent groups.
- Caregiver Tips & Resources during COVID-19
- Caring for a child or youth
- Supporting Caregivers During Covid Poster
Many school boards are supporting parents of students with disabilities and their families.
Please reach out to individuals and organizations that have supported you in the past. Professionals in Children’s Treatment Centers and school boards may be able to help you with suggestions for your unique situation.
For other resources for children and families see, COVID-19: Resources for Staying Healthy, Safe and Informed.