Health Programs for the Ill in Alberta, Canada

It can be difficult to navigate the resources that are available for sick people in Alberta. Thankfully, Alberta Health Services has a strong background in providing support to those in medical need. There are some great programs that caregivers can check out for their patients and loved ones who are in need of support due to illness. This list is not comprehensive, but the following does cover many of the programs available:

Early Psychosis Clinic

Depending on the area of Alberta, the contact details for each group are a little bit different. However, Alberta has been on the forefront of providing this collection of social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists to patients after they have a psychotic episode before the age of 30.

When a caregiver is helping someone who has had a psychosis, the person should be aware that this individual’s life is upside down. The doctors are still trying to find the cause of this psychosis, even after inpatient hospitalization. The person will be unable to care for themselves until the patient is on the right balance of medication. This can take years of support, so young people need help for a variety of professionals to get back on track.

Geriatric Nurses

This specialized branch of nursing helps seniors in the later stages of their life. These nurses can be called up at the hospital and mobilized to go into older adults’ homes. They will help the caregiver with making the home safe for the new needs of the senior, which can be mobility issues or cognitive decline. They will also advise regarding when it is time to transition the older adult into a nursing home. Sometimes a senior will have Alzheimer’s or a serious illness that needs constant monitoring. If the caregiver cannot provide this, then these nurses will help find more viable long term solutions.

Alberta Hospital

Alberta Hospital is a full-service psychiatric hospital in Edmonton, Alberta. There are so many other great psych units in Alberta, but Alberta Hospital is unique in that it only deals with psychiatric patients. If a person who is ill starts exhibiting symptoms of mental illness, then their caregiver might need to work in conjunction with a doctor to get a referral to Alberta Hospital. This hospital is also a perfect place to call up and ask for resources regarding mental health in one’s community. As an alternative, any ER is a place to take a patient who needs help immediately. The hospitals can and will accommodate the mentally ill in their treatment.

Alberta Healthy Living Program

Even healthy people can attend these classes, so it is something that caregivers and ill patients can participate in together. These classes also help to accommodate several language groups, so those caring for immigrants might find that these services can help their patients.

The educational groups offer a variety of topics. They are free six-week workshops. There are exercise groups that a person can attend. Also, free nutritional counseling appointments can be scheduled.

What are services available for caregivers in Canada?

Caregivers need to have supports too. They may wonder- “what are services available for caregivers in Canada?”. Caregivers may not have time to research options. Many support options are depending on the person’s needs.

Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits

Sometimes caregivers are put in the situation when a family member becomes gravely ill. In Canada, if a person needs to take time off of work to become a caregiver, there are employment insurance compassionate care benefits. The benefits can cover a person for up to six months. Also, there are employment insurance special benefits for parents of critically ill children for those parents that need to care for a gravely ill child. These can last for up to 35 weeks. The government of Canada offers these  benefits, so visit their website for more information.

Child Disability Benefit

The Child Disability Benefit is for parents who are caregivers for their children who are under 18. The government of Canada helps these families when the child has been certified to have a severe and prolonged disability by a medical professional.



Employer’s Health Care Plan

Also, for caregivers that are worried about their health benefits, their employer’s health care plan may cover them. This benefit depends on a person’s relationship with the company. Sometimes these jobs can also provide the advantage of giving the caregiver flexibility regarding when they come to work. This flexibility can allow the caregiver to go to the doctor at times that are mutually convenient. The employer might also offer Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This program helps the person to overcome their issues that might impede their performance at work.

The patient might have worked at a place previously that can provide them with a pension or other benefits. These funds can then be used by the patient to help them to support items that make it easier to care for the caregiver, or just give a basic salary. When the patient is not stressed out by financial issues, this will make the caregiver’s job a lot easier.

Canadian Caregivers Services Inc.

If the caregiver wants to go through an agency for greater benefits and support, the Canadian Caregivers Services Inc. can help to connect caregivers with new opportunities at home and overseas. Their website also provides a lot of information for caregivers as well as for families. It can often help caregivers to be a part of one of these organizations so that they know their rights as a caregiver. This group links to a larger network, the Association of Caregiver & Nanny Agencies in Canada.

Aging Parents Canada


Aging Parents Canada is a comprehensive website that helps caregivers to navigate the murky waters of caring for aging parents. The URL is



In Summary

Caregivers can feel like they are alone in the world and shut out from benefits that other Canadian workers have. There are many changes at the governmental level that give caregivers unique advantages. It is important for caregivers to know of these services and benefit from what they have to offer.

Take a Look at the Care Giver Bill of Rights

People might have heard the term but still, wonder- “what is a care giver bill of rights?”. Well, it’s not a formal document fashioned in a court of law. Rather, it is a set of principles that were penned by author Jo Horne. In her book “Caregiving: Helping an Aging Loved One” (1985) she wrote out this list of rights that a care giver has.

It is vital for a caregiver, especially an unpaid one such as a family member, to look this over. Caregivers cannot do everything. In a more clinical setting, there are restrictions on care giving such as shift work. This means the person can have a life outside of their job.

Facing a Loved One’s Illness

However, for others, they fell into care giving seemingly over night. These people were faced with the illness of a loved one, whether a parent or a child and they were the ones that needed to step in. In the case of the elderly, the person might have wanted their parent to have some time at home before they went into a nursing home full time. Some parents who are ill even die at their homes. But even in this case, the person who is caring needs to remember that they are not expected to give up their own lives.


Keep the Balance

A caregiver does have a fulfilling job to do that, but they are also still a human who needs balance. They also have the right to find this balance. They can do this even if their efforts to do so are thwarted by the person with the illness. Because while they need to keep their loved ones safe, they are not required to become emotional wrecks who are shells of their former selves in the process.

Don’t Put Off Dreams

The bill of rights reminds the caregiver that it is alright if they have dreams after this stint is over. They do not need to put off their plans for a future, such as planning to study or online classes. The care giver is allowed to save their money to do what they want in the future too. They don’t need to spend it entirely on the ill person.


Find Support

There are limits in all professions, and caregivers have theirs. They will be human and have bad days. They need the support that comes from this literature to uphold their value as a human and as an employee. Because often those who are ill are not capable of giving a lot back. Sometimes they are, and those times should be relished and celebrated. But if they are only giving back guilt and depression, then the care giver should not take on those emotions. They do have to stay intact and healthy as an individual, and taking on negative ways of coping and relating are not in the mandate of every caregiver.


The summary of the bill of rights is never a substitute for the real thing. So take a moment as a caregiver to lap in the wisdom that has been passed on from this author to millions of care givers since then.

How can exercise help with stress and caring for patients?

Caregivers might wonder how getting exercise can help with stress and care for patients. Well, caregivers are among a group of individuals who commonly neglect themselves. They are under lots of pressure to help out patients, and their health can go to the wayside.

Being Overweight

First and foremost, being overweight can impact a person’s health. When looking for standards, most General Practitioners still look to the Body Mass Index (BMI) charts to establish the baseline. The numbers for this stipulate that a BMI that is between 18.5 to 25.0 is in the normal range. The healthy range is where every individual, regardless of age, strive to stay. This, of course, can be accomplished through weight loss plans that include the two most important elements of healthy diet and exercise.

One of the best weight loss programs is one created by Steve Holman, The Old School New Body Plan. The plan showcases a healthy way to exercise without spending hours and hours at the gym. The program also has an excellent guide to eating healthy.

People might not believe that being overweight is a problem when doing something good in the world. But this category increases the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. This is the last thing that a caregiver needs to worry about when they are caring for their patients.


One thing that people don’t realize about exercise is that doing it consistently will decrease a person’s appetite. The body will reach a homeostasis where the person is not craving carbs to get that serotonin and dopamine boost. The exercise will provide these neurotransmitters in the brain instead, and the release of these will last even longer for a person than a sugar fix does. Individuals who are habitually working out will have less depression or stress related cravings for food. It will simply be because they are more immune to those lows that they had before without exercise.

Another thing that exercise does is to help regulate a person’s sleep cycle. People should not work out a couple of hours before going to bed because the exercise will energize them. It does so by releasing nor adrenaline, a commonly targeted neuro chemical in many stimulants and wakefulness inducing anti depressants such as Wellbutrin and Effexor. So people who exercise early in the morning will have these chemicals activated to keep them alert while caring for their patients. Even those who work out before a shift will find that they do not feel sleepy when they are supposed to be working.

Keeping fit for the Patient

keeping fit

So if one wonders “how can exercise help with stress and care for patients?” Then the person just needs to look at the insurmountable evidence weighing in favor of an exercise plan (no pun intended). Unhealthy people do not make the best caregivers because of the imminent danger that they will soon be needing medical care.

Challenges of Caring for Ill Family Members

People might wonder- “what are the challenges for people caring for ill family members?”. There is an abundance of issues that arise. Least of all, people wonder how they are going to survive the experience. It can be draining in a plethora of different aspects.

Financial Support


Those who care for ill family members might not get the support that they need financially. They might have been denied medical benefits or been in a job before where they didn’t contribute to the insurance system directly, such as being a homemaker. That means that they are giving up their income to care for family members to some degree. They might be caring full or part time, but they will lose the money that would be coming in from a job in the time that they are caring.



Push-back from the Patient

Also, the person might face extreme animosity from the family member who is ill. The patient might have had a position of power over the individual before, such as a parent or a grandparent. Therefore, the person who is ill might feel like they get to call the shots. This can pose stress on the caretaker, who might need to get outside parties to step in to tell the patient that they cannot do activities they once did before, such as drive. The family member might not want to listen to these outside people.


Emotionally Challengingemotional challenge

It can be emotionally difficult for a family member who is caring for someone else who is ill. That person does not want to watch a loved one go through pain. They might start to feel guilty that the patient is going through so much. They might be tempted to over accommodate and in doing so, they will isolate themselves from the outside world. That means the caregiver is not getting the support that they need to do their job properly.

It can be hard to a person when they are the only one caregiver and never get a break from that person. The health provider needs to reach out to medical resources in the community, so they get the break they require. It is important for them to insist that other people take over for a few hours. Even if they are the only person who can care for the patient, they need to make phone calls when the patient sleeps to find outlets, groups, and medical professionals who can help.

Find a Support Network


Caring is not a solitary activity. There is no way that one person can do it all without severely burning out. Carers that look after family members must remember that there is a community out there that is waiting to help them on their journey.

Some agencies offer home care, whether it be full nursing staff or bed side sitters. Alberta, Canada offers a broad range of services.