Online community brings innovation offering to more than 2 million Québec caregivers


WE THE CARING: Through social connection, empowers caregivers to create better care experiences and health outcomes for themselves and their loved ones

MONTREAL, Nov. 6, 2017 /CNW/ - At any given moment, more than 2 million Québec households are providing care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging need.1  While many do not immediately identify themselves as a caregiver– with many seeing what they do as part and parcel for being a parent, sibling, child, spouse, friend or neighbour, the magnitude of the caregiving task cannot be ignored.

The reality is, many long-term caregivers face years of distress, disorientation and isolation as they work to map out a solution for their family member or loved one, often without knowing what questions to ask or which path will lead to the best outcomes. – a digital innovation emerging from Québec, is turning those caregiving masses into a powerful social community that is crowdsourcing solutions to everyday care challenges. Huddol makes it easier than ever before for Canadians to navigate the long-term care of a loved one, while also taking care of their own needs.

"The suffering families face when they become caregivers has a way of turning them in on themselves; there's the stigma of the illness, the time it takes away from social relationships, and the sheer intensity and complexity of the task of having someone else's life in your hands," says Mark Stolow, CEO of Huddol. "Huddol is focused on reversing that trend and using the power of smart, caring connections to improve the health of caregivers and those in their care."

Innovative in its approach, Huddol empowers caregivers to create better care experiences and health outcomes for their loved ones by ensuring that they are treated as critical partners in care from the start. Using data inputs from each individual caregiver, Huddol smart matches members to a dedicated network of their peers, professionals and supportive resources. Time and time again research and real-world evidence emphasizes the importance of social connectivity in improving health outcomes. Through its collective insights and rich social networking, Huddol generates a powerful learning and sharing environment helping everyday people successfully navigate the care experience.

Québec singer-songwriter and La Voix contestant, Elie Haroun recounts his personal struggle and difficulty in witnessing the challenges his family faced when his father's cancer progressed into dementia in 2010.

"When my dad was dying, we were a team of two – me and my mom, but we were so lost in the experience," says Haroun. "I felt like I was losing both parents – one who was dying and the other who was self-sacrificing to the point of compromising her own mental health and self-care. Looking back, it would have meant everything to us to be able to tap into the collective trust of so many others – professionals, but also people like us who had been there or were going through the same experience."

With organizations such as Parkinson Québec, Alzheimer Society of Montreal and ALS Québec on board, and more than 150 professionals across the health and support service sector already as partners, Huddol provides caregivers with exclusive and easy-to-navigate access to an expansive integrated social and health eco-system that brings together all critical caregiver support touch points – private and public resources mixed within peer networks.

"Through their own determination and perseverance, many caregivers are trying to solve complex health riddles," says Monique Nadeau, Executive Director of L'Appui pour les proches aidants d'aînés. "Through the platform, Huddol fosters an online community that brings caregivers, organizations and professionals together. We believe that this initiative, which compliments existing services and aligns with our mission, will enable more caregivers to gain access to resources and supports."

Huddol's lead financial contributors include the Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program, Telus and L'Appui pour les proches aidants d'aînés. Huddol was developed by the seasoned team at The Caregiver Network – a group of health innovators, technologists, creatives, educators, researchers and clinicians with more than 15 years of experience working within the caregiver support space and innovating the future of caregiver support.

Caregivers across Québec can sign up for free access at or download the Huddol iOS app.

About The Caregiver Network (TCN)

The Caregiver Network (TCN) is Canada's largest online learning network supporting family caregivers, their loved ones and the health care professionals who work on their behalf. TCN hosts free educational events in partnership with associations across the country. Events are led by experts who share up to date information and respond to questions from participants to help them better navigate the care journey. For more information on The Caregiver Network visit

1 Statistics Canada. (2013). Portrait of caregivers, 2012. Catalogue no. 89-652 X- No.001. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, retrieved from


Surviving the Holidays – A Guide For Caregivers


The holiday décor and trappings have already appeared in stores and folks are starting to make celebratory plans for the season. If you are a family caregiver for an ill or cognitively impaired individual, you may not be looking forward to the holidays; more work, more company (including those who may not realize how their presence and demands impacts on your schedule and work load), and additional stress on you and the person you care for.


Holiday gatherings easily show off an individual’s deficits. Imagine how confusing it is to be impaired and surrounded by people who know you, but you have no recall. Think about the constant noise (music, bells, etc.), bright lights and decorations that distort your sense of who and where you are. Imagine going to a family party with foods that no longer may be recognizable to you or that you are unsure how to eat.


So my advice is to learn to set realistic expectations—for you and your family member.


For your loved one:


  • Attempt to maintain a regular schedule whenever possible.
  • Simplify: shorten visits and events. You do not have to accept all invitations. Determine which ones might be the most important or provide the most joy to your loved one.
  • Watch your family member’s reactions. Pay attention to their stress levels and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Attempt to limit visitors to smaller, sporadic groups. This might be a perfect time to let other family members “visit” while you (caregiver) take a nap, Christmas shop or quietly read a book. If you must attend a large gathering, locate a quiet spot to leave the crowd for a “time out.”
  • Make introductions with explanations. Act like you are introducing the visitor to your Mom or Dad.
  • Maintain the familiar. Old traditions, familiar music, reading/signing holiday cards or other simple customs can be enjoyable and feel comfortable to the impaired individual.
  • Pay attention: unthinking guests may offer your 90 pound mom on heavy medication the “spiked” eggnog, or mom might forget she is lactose intolerant and make herself a cheese plate.
  • Keep physical conditions in mind. A person in pain or with special medical needs should be asked how much and when they want to participate. Don’t insist that they do. Give them an “out” if it becomes too exhausting. Needless to say, ask family who are sick to visit at another time.
  • Where possible, solicit your loved one’s involvement in simple preparations—cooking, cleaning, sorting, etc. Most importantly, thank them for their help. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
  • Get involved and do something (anything): a short walk to look at Christmas decorations, an animated holiday musical that encourages simulated dancing or swaying, decorating a tree - these are all possible activities.
  • Reminisce about past gatherings, traditions or people. It’s time to bring out those old photo albums!
  • Be prepared! Make sure you have a supply of medication, incontinence products, quick snacks, some baby wipes and an extra sweater when going out.


As a caregiver:


  • Set reasonable expectations for yourself. You cannot do everything, and, most importantly, you don’t have to. Do you really need to make 5 kinds of cookies when you can go to Costco?
  • Maintaining the same schedule and simplifying the season will go a long way in easing your stress.
  • Ask for assistance! Ask family members to come sit with mom and dad while you do errands. Better yet, ask them to bake the holiday cookies or come help you clean the day before Thanksgiving. Learning to ask for help will make for better caregiving. After dinner coffee when mom is taking her nap is a great time to bring up whatever ongoing help you need.
  • Self preservation: remember to take care of yourself first. Airlines advise you to put on your oxygen mask before your child’s so you can clearly and safely care for another. Self care helps you maintain your health, your patience and your sanity.
  • Forget about perfection! A lopsided tree, gift cards instead of an actual boxed presents or a bakery pie will not detract from what’s important about the season. Spending time with family, keeping mom or dad comfortable with the gathering, and sharing the love will create a much longer lasting memory.




Igor Lebovic is the CEO of Kindly Care, a self-serve care management platform that makes it incredibly simple to privately hire caregivers without having to worry about sourcing, safety or compliance.


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