Hope and optimism are two important characteristics shared by many people with Parkinson’s. Whether you have recently been diagnosed, or you are in your second or third decade of caring for a person with this life-changing disease, we hope you know that you can depend on our support. And we’re able to provide that support in a variety of ways, thanks to the generosity of our donors.
During the past year, our 50th anniversary, our National Information and Referral Centre responded to more than 6,000 calls and emails, guiding the way for many individuals. Each and every call and request is responded to with warmth, empathy and knowledge, and a customized solution based on each individual’s needs. Many of our requests for information come from professionals, like nurses and personal support workers, as well as from family caregivers.
Accordingly, our education initiatives this year have focused on those who care for people with Parkinson’s – both health care professionals and family caregivers. Last week we broadcast our first webinar created specifically for caregivers, in cooperation with the Alzheimer’s Society and the MS Society of Canada. Taking Care of Yourself Through the Ups and Downs of Caregiving, addresses some of the stress-inducing issues that caregivers themselves told us were a challenge. We look forward to holding another caregiver webinar later this winter, as well as one in French.
We continue to offer health care professionals our first online learning module, which is accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. A second online learning module will be available early in 2016. Our staff also attended the Family Medicine Forum, meeting doctors from across the country and providing them with educational resources for themselves and their patients with Parkinson’s.
Improving everyday life for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers was also top of mind during the recent federal election campaign. More than 160 volunteer Parkinson’s Ambassadors, representing every province, met with candidates to advocate on behalf of the Parkinson’s community. As a key member of other health-related coalitions, our advocacy efforts met further success in 2015 with the federal government extending the Compassionate Care Benefit for caregivers to six months and the Public Health Agency of Canada now gathering statistics on people with Parkinson’s and their care needs.
Parkinson’s research also plays a pivotal role in realizing our vision: “A better life with a brighter future for Canadians living with Parkinson’s today. A world without Parkinson’s tomorrow.” Since the creation of the National Research Program (NRP) in 1981, Parkinson Society Canada and its network of partners have invested more than $25 million in 483 awards, fellowships and grants that have revealed more about diagnosing and treating Parkinson’s disease and advanced our knowledge towards a cure.
This holiday season we are coming together and strengthening our commitment to the Parkinson community. On January 1, 2016, we will formally change our name and become Parkinson Canada. We will proudly continue to serve you, while operating as an efficient and effective health charity.
I want to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a joyous 2016. I’d also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each of our donors, partners, volunteers, researchers, health care professionals and staff, who all help us to help those affected by Parkinson’s to live their best life possible.