Looking after disabled family member is overwhelming for most people, hence taking some time off to go away is often a must. However before doing so the family must consider the following three very important points.

1) Before going away, the caregiver / family is obligated to arrange for appropriate care and supervision of their disabled family member to cover their absence. This responsibility rests with the caregiver and not with the disabled person.

2) Disabled person may feel as a burden to the family and hence he or she will often try to minimize or even hide the extent of their disability. Hence it is not safe to assess the needs of the disabled person based on his or her self report. Family must rely on opinions of the treating physicians and members of the medical/ rehabilitation team.

3) Overall, families who have a disabled person living under their roof must remember that their obligations towards that person are not that different from those in case of a minor child. This applies regardless of whether the disabled person is of the sound mind. In case where disabled person is refusing care families are encouraged to seek legal advice and/or contact the Ontario Office of Public Guardian and Trustee.

Section 215 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that an offence is committed if an individual fails to provide necessaries of life to a person under his or her charge if that person is:

Unable, by reason of detention, age, illness, mental disorder or other cause, to withdraw himself from that charge, and is unable to provide himself with the necessaries of life.”

Necessaries of life refer to those things necessary to preserve life, such as food, shelter, medical attention and protection from harm.

Caregivers and their elderly and or/disabled family members should always consider all options for support available via provincial and private services, such as respite and short term stays in a residential facility, as well as day programs. First step can be initiating a contact with a local chapter of CCAC/ LHIN , or /and visiting Caregivers information page at the Ontario government website.

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