The Movement Is Here


The Movement Is Here

(This is the second article in a series about the themes about the caregiving experience that bubbled up during our Third Annual National Caregiving Conference.)

A few years ago, a colleague who managed a non-profit focused on collecting caregiving research asked me why we haven't mobilized a caregiving movement, a movement like the "Mommy bloggers" created. Mommy bloggers became a force that challenged companies to support their values and priorities, boycotting companies that did not.

"We're too mad about our siblings who won't help," I explained to my colleague, "to mobilize our anger into a bigger movement."

Sometimes the anger isn't directed toward siblings but at another close to us who didn't help -- like a manager or co-worker. A former family caregiver and colleague often still speaks about how frustrating her work experience was because her manager just didn't get it.

During a caregiving experience, it makes sense to focus our frustration on the individuals who didn't help. That anger can cloud our vision of the greater societal problems -- like not having enough trained help to hire, not having enough money to hire help, and not having enough support and time to keep our life during caregiving.

While we spent time during caregiving mad at individuals who didn't get it, we spend time after caregiving ends expanding our frustration into the systems that didn't get it -- the health care system, the houses of worship, the employers, the community.

Enough former family caregivers now have the perspective that we've moved into a movement.

The movement is organizing and moving forward at a grass-roots level because of these former family caregivers, those who have enough perspective and healing to put emotion into action to change the experience of those currently caring for a family member. We have an idea of how many currently care for a family member (at least 40 million) although we don't have a number of those former family caregivers.

I do think the number of former family caregivers now matters.

In my conference presentation, The Future of Caregiving, I shared that we have enough former family caregivers and current family caregivers to force the systems to change. The change won't happen on the inside but from the outside--from us. So many of us will choose so carefully how we spend our money that the systems that don't support and understand us will lose our money. In order for a company to survive in the future, a company will have to change how it supports its employees (who will be family caregivers) and its customers (who will be family caregivers).

In another panel discussion, Jenn Chan, Meagan Bates and Tonya Regiro shared how their personal caregiving experiences now shape their careers. Jenn started business called Senior Shower Project. Meagan is Associate Director, Patient Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships, at EMD Serono, Inc. and spearheads the company's Embracing Carers initiative. Tonya is marketing director for Slip Proof Safety, a Chicagoland company she used during caregiving to keep her carees safe at home. The three are pictured above.

My colleague who felt so much frustration with a boss who didn't get it now works to improve the experience for working family caregivers.

During a caregiving experience, we don't have the time or energy to mobilize a movement. The former family caregivers do. These former family caregivers will clear the path and the current family caregivers will follow, spending their time and money with the systems who get it.

That movement will change the status quo of the systems. Rather than family caregivers falling in line to fit into a system, the systems will now have to accommodate the family caregivers. If they don't, they will lose their business and then the business.

Miss our Third Annual National Caregiving Conference? We recorded all our sessions so that you don't miss any of the important conversation that occurred during our sessions.

"I work with families facing very complex, difficult care-giving situations, and very much appreciate the sophistication and depth of all the presentations I attended," shared a conference attendee. "Thanks so very much for this wonderful conference."

Purchase your package of NCC18 recordings and save 20% with our coupon code KISS (for Kiss a Caregiver) through November 23. Our package includes my presentation, The Future of Caregiving, the panel discussion on careers after caregiving and our Caregiving and the Workplace Summit.

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