Meeting our Community’s Needs…in Mandarin and Cantonese!

By Cancer Foundation on October 9 / 2018

[Cancer, Cancer Coaching, Caregivers, Families]Comments

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This summer, a special grant made an exciting partnership possible between the Cancer Foundation and a community organization looking to offer a Coaching program to their own clients. The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care provided funding for the delivery of the Foundation’s popular Caregivers Group Coaching Program at the Chinese Community Service Centre in Downtown Ottawa, so that Chinese-speaking caregivers in our community could receive support and guidance on caring for a loved one with cancer.

Cancer Coaches Patricia Barrett-Robillard and Melina Ladouceur facilitated the program, which consisted of three sessions at the Community Centre and was supported by two project staff—Wendy Tang and Yangjie Jin—who are also trained community interpreters. “We met in person with the facilitators to plan the workshop, and they gave us many suggestions on what would make it more appropriate for the participants that normally come to their groups,” Patti says. They learned that sharing information and resources would be more important than for the participants to share their own experiences with one another, so they adapted their content as needed.

Wendy Tang, a Social Worker at the Chinese Community Service Centre says many of their clients are caregivers for family members facing chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, or age-related ailments. “Many families struggle with accessing and understanding the Canadian Healthcare System due to language and other barriers, so it is at the forefront of many of our clients’ minds,” she says.

This was echoed in what participants and translators shared with the Coaches as well, given that most are Mandarin or Cantonese speakers. “Most services and resources are only offered in French and English, translation is expensive, and often a family member is not available or appropriate to help,” Patti says. “It makes it very difficult for them to get the care and the resources they need to look after their health.”

With help from facilitators, Melina and Patti ran a session each week for three weeks to help them better understand how they can care for a loved one with cancer. “The participants and the translators were so helpful and engaged from the start, we knew right away it was going to be a great workshop series,” Patti says.

Participants shared wonderfully positive feedback about their experiences at the end of the three weeks, describing what they had learned as useful and applicable to their own lives, and that it had met their unique needs as caregivers. Many also noted the importance of learning to understand and communicate the emotions they feel as they care for a loved one with cancer, and enjoyed learning about how exercise can help them look after themselves and alleviate stress. Others appreciated the practical knowledge the workshop provided about cancer care, and say they now feel more confident providing for their loved one’s needs. “Really, the only improvements that were suggested were for us to hold more workshops,” Patti says.

Going forward, Wendy says the Centre’s clients would enjoy learning more about various topics such as Nutrition Coaching, common truths and myths about cancer, and the treatability of many cancers. They are also very interested in having more resources and support groups available to their clients for families with a loved one who is facing cancer, as they face an aging population with unique needs.

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