How to Solve the Home Care Needs of Canadian Seniors: uCarenet and the Caremap app

The numbers are staggering and growing. The home care needs of our Canadian seniors are not being met.  My mom is one of these seniors. For the last ten years, she has needed both nursing care and personal home care. So how do we solve some of the issues for Canadian families and especially seniors who are grappling with this issue? Back in December, I came across uCarenet, a cool new matching platform that is matching Canadian seniors with caregivers,  in the Greater Toronto and Ottawa areas currently. If you have followed me for years, you know I love working with small Canadian companies doing cool things like Flipp and Caddle.

In December, I pitched the company and became their social media manager starting in January. So this post is not sponsored but I do work for the company. One of the reasons I wanted to be apart of this was I saw my mom struggle with your homecare aides. One of the things I loved about a matching platform, it gave families and caregivers alike more control. Now, this week to add to the platform, there is the new Caremap app, think of it is as Uber for Canadian seniors trying to find home care help. When I first learned about it, I was excited. We have been working on this for months. So why am I excited?

The Back Story of uCarenet

Look at the stats. A 2012 Statistics Canada study found that 5.4 million Canadians provided care to a senior family member or friend, and nine out of 10 who received care in the home relied on a family member. More than three million Ontarians are family caregivers, and 48% are caring for a parent or in-law. Some 850,000 provide more than 10 hours of care per week, including transportation, domestic tasks, scheduling appointments, managing finances and providing personal care. Publicly funded services are not enough to fill the needs of Canada’s ageing population, families are tasked with navigating the limited services available. uCarenet and the new Caremap app help fill a void in home care.

The Numbers Matter

Right now uCarenet has partnered with William Osler Health System and Baycrest. A  study is underway. We are looking at the efficacy of a technology-enhanced service to access affordable home care, and for the continuation of care from hospital to home. This should lead to less emergency room visits and a better quality of care.  Once the results are in, we will be publishing these numbers.

How does it work?

uCarenet is affordable home care made simple. You know I like tools that help Canadians save money. uCarenet sets out to do just that. This online platform bridges the gap between health providers and in-home caregiving families easier access to reliable, affordable, home care while supporting independence and quality of life for seniors.  Sounds great right? So we help Canadian families find top quality care.

On the other side of the coin, uCarenet was designed with the help of Canadian healthcare professionals to improve the home care experience for seniors and families. Healthcare professionals and caregivers can operate their own small business, they no longer need to go through a typical agency. They can earn more or supplement what they are already earning. It’s great for those who are looking for work as senior caregivers.

Now alongside the matching platform, the app will be able to be used to monitor a senior’s basic health and acts as a communication tool for caregivers and families. Things like mood, hydration and mobility all can be reported upon in the app. This information allows for clear communication between family members and caregiver.

Know a senior looking for care, have them download the new Caremap,  Know are caregiver looking for work have them download the app as well.

You can join this important conversation as well the first Tuesday of every month at 7 pm EST on Twitter, as we talk about different senior issues, our next chat on July 3rd we will discuss senior nutrition.  Follow uCarenet and Commoncentsmom and the #ucarenet hashtag to be part of the conversation.

 

Ten Years of Common Sense Blogging

It’s hard to believe Common Cents Mom is ten!

I started this blog ten years ago. I wanted it to be an inspiration and a way for me to share the knowledge I was gaining.  It has been quite a rollercoaster ride and my community has shared it all with me!

 

So what are some of the highlights:

  • Over 1000 posts written ( that averages to 2 posts a week)
  • Started the first Personal Finance Chat in Canada even before the banks were talking about money online!
  • Wrote a tweet to Oprah that ended up in New York Times
  • Having this blog and one post featured on every news site in Toronto leading to the raising of thousands of dollars for fire victims.
  • Having Common Cents Mom featured on multiple lists as a blog to follow and read. I have been on the top lists more than 20 times.
  • Speaking at multiple Blogging Conferences and the University of Toronto as a Guest Speaker twice.
  • Being one of 4 bloggers invited by VIA Rail to take the Ocean train as part of its 110 birthday.
  • Having met many of my current friends via this blog.
  • Helping  2 apps that were created here in Ontario launch. One now has millions of downloads and the other was wanted by 4 Dragons on Dragons Den.
  • Over 5 billion social media impressions for brands that have partnered with Common Cents Mom
  • Over 200 Twitter Parties or Chats hosted or moderated for brands.

What surprises me every month is that new people visit and become followers and for each and every one of them I am grateful and blessed. I am floored that so many are now friends. I am thankful for conversations and how this community has grown together. I am thankful for the mentors who stepped in and taught me so much about personal finance and blogging. In the area of personal finance, I am thankful for Preet Banerjee who gave me my first paid writing gig. I wrote about my bankruptcy for his blog. I am thankful for Gail Vaz Oxlade who is the original Common Sense personal finance writer. These two I learned much from. In the area of authentic connection, I am thankful for names we who work in the world of Social Media know well.  I am grateful or Liz Strauss and Chris Brogan who along with Scott Stratten taught me much that I use every day. It is all about connecting in ways that matter, ways that help and make you think.

Eight years ago, my life changed when I became unemployed and ended up six days later being employed by Connected Multi-Media. Little did I know, all my paid work since has been in the world of social media. From blogging to a freelancer working alongside some great brands and agencies I have had so many great experiences. Dove Chocolates was my very first partner some 8 years ago and I have worked alongside over 100 brands and companies since.

As I look to the next 10 years, I look forward to Common Cents Mom being a resource for those that want to learn about money in ways that make sense, ways that save you time and money. I promise I will always be looking for ways and tools that will help my readers.

Here is living frugally so we can live well!

THANK YOU all for reading and visiting my blog. I appreciate every click and every moment you spend here.

 

Let’s Not Forget About Our Kids and Their Mental Health #BellLetsTalk #KidsCantWait

Dear Kathleen Wynne and Those Running for Office,

This post is an open letter from a concerned mom.

I am not sure you are aware of the crisis facing our kids. If you are you, you have done too little. Kids especially our youth wait far too long for help when they are in crisis. When a child is in crisis they wait for help when it comes to their mental health.

My own daughter languished on a high priority wait list for months waiting for a program that would assess her needs and get her a proper diagnosis. While she waited we had daily phone calls from a triage nurse and during this time period her school put her on a do not admit. She would not attend school for 5 months. No education was offered during this time.  Can you imagine that happening to a child you know? a child you care about? Children are languishing because the people that could change things do nothing.

My daughter waited over 2 years for help. Would you wait two years for treatment of an illness that is having a serious impact on your life? one that would almost take your life? The average child waits over 18 months in the province of Ontario for help. Most in the GTA wait longer.

Here is a scary honest stat. Four in 10 children do not get the help they need. We are failing our children. My own daughter was referred to community help after a hospital stay. The programs and treatment recommended for her NEVER came.  As a parent, I could not wait for my community. I was forced to take action on my own. I had to navigate a broken system. I had to pay out of pocket for therapy. It was a daily nightmare for about two years.

Here is the reality most adults who suffer from mental illness showed signs in childhood. By age 40 almost half of all of those who live in Ontario will have struggled with a mental health issue. What if we helped people sooner? Think of the long-term cost savings? Children’s Mental Health Ontario is calling on the Government of Ontario to make child and youth mental health a priority in its next budget. Will you answer their request with real action?

Let this mom know, I will be voting on this one issue.

Thank you,

Regards,

Hollie Pollard

Mom of One

My dear friends the stats are scary and I would encourage you to reach out to our premier and let her know your concerns.

Here are some stats that scare the heck out of me. They are fact, not fiction.

 

  • Mental illness impacts us all. We know that 70% of adult mental illnesses begin in childhood and by the age of 40, half of all Ontarians will have struggled with a mental health problem.
  • In Ontario, an alarming 36% of parents report seeking mental health services for their children.
  • Half of the parents who sought help said they faced challenges in getting the services they needed. The primary reason cited was long wait times (65% of those who sought help).
  • Four in 10 youth have sought help for mental health issues but nearly half of them were not able to get the help they needed.
  • $120M additional funds annually are needed to meet the increasing demand and shortage of mental health and addiction services for both children and youth. Children’s Mental Health Ontario is calling on the Government of Ontario to make child and youth mental health a priority in its next budget. Join us and urge the Ontario government to act now at kidsmentalhealthcantwait.ca
  • When children receive treatment in hospitals, they are stabilized, kept for a few days, and are discharged only to wait in long lines for treatment at child and youth mental health centres.
  • Nearly half of all youth in Ontario (46%) report having missed school as a result of their anxiety, and one-quarter of all kids with mental health issues experience substantially lower achievement at school.
  • With nowhere to turn because of long wait lists or a shortage of services near where they live, many children and youth are forced in desperation and crisis to seek mental health treatment at hospital emergency rooms. Since 2006-07, there has been a 63% increase in emergency department visits and a 67% increase in hospitalizations for Ontario children and youth with mental health issues. ( my daughter had to be one of these).

Here is what should be happening. Can you help advocate for it?

Children’s Mental Health Ontario urges the government to make crucial investments to:

  • Ensure that no child or youth wait more than 30 days for mental health and addictions treatment
  • Expand specialized youth mental health and addictions centres to ensure that children and youth get the treatment they need
  • Hire and retain the highest skilled staff caring for our most vulnerable children
  • Develop quality standards to deliver the best mental health and addictions services

Today you can make a difference with one simple action.

That is why for Bell Let’s Talk Day we are asking you to raise your voice for children’s mental health. Click here to send Premier Kathleen Wynne a message and let her know that our #kidscantwait for mental healthcare. http://kidsmentalhealthcantwait.ca/

**This is not a sponsored post I am simply a mom who has had to navigate a very broken system.

 

How to Survive Cold and Flu Season on a Budget

No one likes getting sick. This year, in the past week it seemed like a large number of my friends were battling cold and flu bugs. At our house, we were as well. It was no fun. No one likes waking up at 2 am in a coughing fit and no one likes taking their little one to the hospital for a brief stay. Both happened in our house last week.  So how can you survive cold and flu season on a budget?

With the reality being most of us take unpaid time off to battle the flu or cold, each bout will affect the pocketbook. So how can we best be ready? Prevention matters but when it happens it is best to listen to your body.

The Flu Shot

Flu shots have been proven to lessen symptoms or even help you get through the season flu-free. This year though there are several strains that are resistant to the shot so what is a family to do?

Rest

Do yourself and your work/school mates a favour and take the time to heal. Rest. One of the best things you can try to do is sleep. Sleep helps you to build your immunity system and helps fight germs. Sleep is a free way to help your body get better.

Wash Your Hands

Handwashing frequently especially in this season matters. Handwashing helps prevent illness but it also helps it from running through the family as well.

Drink Water

Water is good for you. It helps to flush out impurities. I have been drinking at least 2 litres a day of water. For me I have added a few drops of lemon essential oils to help flush toxins away. Even adding fresh lemon will help.

Eat Well

There are many foods that help fight food and colds.  Mushrooms, green tea, sweet potato and chicken soup are on the list. We keep cans of chicken noodle soup stocked just for sick days.

Stock Your Medicine Chest

There is nothing worse than having to do a run to the pharmacy when you feel terrible. I do quarterly checks on our basic meds and stock the cabinet when things are on sale. We buy just enough and I do check the expiry dates.   We keep Advil, Neo Citran, Vicks Vapour Rub, Gravol, and a few other medications on hand. Did you know you can often find these for sale? Remember to check your flyer apps like Flipp for sales and rebates. Other apps you may want to check include CheckOut 51 and Caddle.

We also buy Kleenex when it is on sale. Even after using about 3 boxes in our house last week I think I have a few left in my stash.

What are your favourite ways to save and battle a cold or the flu?

 

The Start of the New Year: 5 Birthdays to Celebrate

It is that time of the year, everyone is celebrating Christmas and the New Year. In our house there are 6 birthdays all within 2 weeks. I live in a house with 3 families and each one of us celebrate 2 birthdays. It’s a busy time of the year. If I extend that just a wee bit, then there is also the birthday of my niece and 3 dear friends. We are a bunch of Capricorns. So let me share with you how we celebrated.

New Year’s Eve and the Bringing in of the New Year

My daughter and I did not want to brave the frigid temperatures that hit Toronto that night so we stayed in. I made up a cheese platter, grabbed some pizzas and we played board games and watched Moana ( We are huge fans of Disney Animation).  As it got later we turned on The Rockin New Year’s Eve and rang in the year cuddled up on the Sofa. It was a pretty sweet way to bring in the New Year.

Celebrating My Daughter’s Birthday

 


My daughter celebrated her birthday on Tuesday. Since she has a love of everything Japanese we headed out for Ramen for lunch and then headed to Uncle Tetsu’s for dessert.  She loved it. I surprised her with the birthday plate. Yes, it was $7.00 extra but work every penny to see her face as they brought her out Matcha cheesecake singing her Happy Birthday. She even got her photo with the girl serving us. She already is planning her next visit. We will continue her birthday celebrations by having some friends over later this month.

A Hospital Visit

Two of the little ones who had birthdays both got very sick over the holidays and the youngest was hospitalized at Sick Kids for a few days. Birthday celebrations for that family have been delayed as we work to get them better.

 

A Saturday of 2 Celebrations

A dear friend of mine and the little one of the family upstairs both had celebrations on Saturday. Yes, even in the frigid weather that hit Toronto we headed out. First there was a Frozen birthday party for the little princess. Then in the evening I headed to the Jerusalem Restaurant Buffet in North York to help celebrate a friend’s 60th.  It was my first time at the restaurant and I enjoyed the food especially the lamb, it was so tender. I was also enthralled with the belly dancing. It was a great night out.

With all the celebrating done though guess who has gotten sick? My daughter caught the bug late on Friday and this morning I woke up not feeling the best. We have been using essential oils to help us feel better. In fact, as I type this there are oils in the diffuser and I put some on my feet as well. Hopefully, we will recover quickly. Tell me, how was your first week of 2018?

 

Create a Reverse Bucket List and be Thankful and Happy now.

Ever had a week or month where you really have the fear of missing out? Life can be unpredictable. With my recent job loss, I have had this intense fear that everything on my bucket list is dreams that can’t happen. I found myself getting discouraged. My bucket is list is long after all. So how did I combat some serious FOMO?

I wrote a reverse bucket list yesterday.  I found it brought me into the present and I became thankful and happy with the now.  It’s easy especially at this time of year to let the fear of missing out rule the day but a reverse bucket list can help deal with today and the now.

 

There are real benefits to the reverse bucket list

Did you know being more thankful actually increases your overall well-being?

Think of a reverse bucket list as what you are most grateful for. As our neighbours in America celebrate Thanksgiving it is a perfect time to do this exercise.

Grab a notebook. I love starting fresh with a new journal. Think back. What are you most proud of? What have you achieved? Think of it as travelling back in time. Write down everything you are proud of in your life. What are those major happy memories? What were the best days?

Having issues remembering? Sometimes glancing at old photos, older social media posts will remind us of those events.

Here are a few of my reverse bucket list items

  • Was the first family member to attend University
  • Helped feed 5000 on Venice Beach for Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Met Bob Hope
  • Traveled on Via Rail from the East Coast of Canada to the West.
  • Traveled from Nova Scotia to California on an Epic Road Trip
  • Created Common Cents Mom
  • Created the first personal finance chat in Canada on Twitter.
  • Solo parented an amazing daughter who graduated as an Ontario Scholar
  • Helped the homeless in LA
  • I have been featured in a national magazine.
  • I have been featured in a national newspaper.

After you have written your list

The list can go on and on. Some have short lists others have lists with hundreds of items. The reverse bucket list is an exercise in gratitude.  When you step back you should feel a sense of joy, a sense of gratitude and pride for all that you have been blessed to do. It is not a brag list. It is a list of all that has been, all that has been celebrated.

Place your list somewhere you can be reminded of it. Mine is on my night table. In this season of gratitude, I am trying to add to it daily.Sometimes we need to be reminded of our success, the good we have done.

Create your own reverse bucket list and let me know what you were reminded of. Mine reminded me of how even when we have little we can find ways to do much.

 

safe hallowen

How to Have Happy Safe Halloween

It ‘s is that time of year again. Your house is brimming with excitement if it is anything like ours. Halloween is next week, Hard to believe there is less than a week to go until the ghosts and goblins roam the street in search of Halloween treats.  This is a busy fun time of the year. Often there are multiple Halloween activities. There are the class parties, the work event. the community event and then there is the night of trick or treating. We love it all! Amongst the busyness though we need to be safe. It is great to love Halloween but we need to think about safety as well. So how do you have a happy and safe Halloween?

Halloween

The Perfect Costume

When it comes to Halloween, let’s start with the basics, the costume. Make sure all costumes fit well and are labeled flame resistant. Over-sized costumes, capes, and even long tails can become hazards. When you think about what you or your child will be, think bright! It gets dark out there and you want to be seen. If you are wearing something dark, think of adding a reflective strip of wearing glow bracelets or necklaces to help you be seen.

We have a rule in our house, no masks. We use face paint or makeup. Even with face paint or makeup you want to do a patch test to ensure there are no allergies.

safe hallowen

Dangerless Decorating

I remember the first time my teen carved a pumpkin. She accidentally cut her hand. Accidents can happen. Let children paint or draw the design on pumpkins and leave the carving to a parent. You may choose not to carve a pumpkin. You may decide to decorate one instead. Pinterest has some amazing ideas.

Ever since the invention of LED candles, we do not use candles in our jack-o-lanterns. If you are using candles, never leave them unattended. Don’t have an LED candle? A small flashlight will work as well.

Make sure the outside of your home is well lit and clutter free.

Halloween candy

Trick or Treat Safely

There was once a time when it was okay to let kids go trick or treating with their friends. We no longer live in a time when that is a good idea. Make sure a parent goes with any child twelve and under. Ensure children only visit homes where lights are turned on and practice good road safety. Cross the street at corners and crosswalks. Last year, we witnessed a near accident as a child went running across the street between parked cars. Thankfully, the driver was paying attention.

When it comes to candy, eat none till you are home. Parents, check your child’s haul. If there are toys or novelty items ensure there are no choking hazards for any little ones that may reside at your house.

By following these tips you should have a safe and happy Halloween. Did I miss any tips that help your family have a safe Halloween? If so, let me know your tips.

 

Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mental Health

Today is World Mental Health Day. Here on my blog, I have talked about mental health some as like many Canadian families we have struggled with mental health issues and there is a real struggle going on. It has been five years since my teenage daughter had a major mental health episode. It has been five years of recovery. Working on our mental health is something we take as important as our physical health.  So how can you improve your mental health?

Give Yourself a Break

Often we are our own worst enemies.  We need to treat ourselves with the kindness we would give to others. Avoid self-criticism and show yourself love and respect. Make time for the things that matter to you. Make the things you enjoy a priority.  If you love bubble baths like me, take one. Love to take photos, take great shots. Love to read, immerse yourself in a great read.

Look after You

One of the things I have not been great at is looking after myself. The physical me that is. If you want to be healthy mentally, you need to take care of your body. You need to eat healthily. Water intake is also important as is getting enough sleep and exercise. I have also started taking supplements.  Sometimes going for a walk is the perfect medicine.

Quiet Your Mind

I am not sure if you are like me but my mind can be going a mile a minute. For me, prayer helps me focus and turn things over to a higher power. For others meditation works. For me, prayer time has become an important daily ritual.

Find Your Tribe

The people you allow in your life become your tribe. Find a support network. If you are feeling friendless, alone, reach out. My teen was feeling this way recently especially right after her graduation. She started attending events that she enjoyed and met some cool new friends. She is now hanging out with them on a weekly basis. They have become a support network for her.

Volunteer

When you give to others, you can not help but feel good. It is also a great way to meet like-minded people. I have met some incredible people when I have volunteered even celebrities so you never know.

Seek Help

When things seem to be spirally out of control, we often isolate ourselves. I know I did but this is the time when we need to be seeking help.

Let me know what do you do to work on your mental health?

 

It Takes Just a Minute, Have 2 Ways Out

This is fire safety week in Canada.  It seems like just weeks ago that my little girl and I experienced one of the worst nights of our lives. It was a deadly night. It took just a minute and we had a way out. The young woman who died just a few feet from where my daughter slept normally had no way out. My neighbour was in her early twenties when she died that night.  This is Fire Safety Week and often I think back on that night and remember. It takes just a moment to have a way out, it’s even better to plan two ways out.

I remember the firemen at my door, alerting us to the fire (the fire alarm had not gone off),  I remember wrapping my daughter in her favorite blanket and carrying her down the stairs. I remember standing on the street with her and watching the fire roar as it ripped through the 30 unit apartment building adjacent to mine. I remember the friend across the street who took us in and let me put my little girl back to sleep. I remember the hotel accommodation thanks to the Red Cross, Dress for Success who ensured I had clothes so I could go to work in a few days. I was blessed that with friends who helped in the days after the fire. It is an event I would never wish on any family.

My young neighbour died because she had no way out. The flames engulfed her unit very quickly. Had she been alerted, she may have been able to use one of the exits available.  Like her, we had just moved into the building a few weeks before. We were excited about a new larger place. I hadn’t even thought of an exit plan.  Since then, every time we have moved to a new home we develop an exit plan our first few days in the house. We know our two ways out.  With this being Fire Safety Week, it may be time to develop your own home fire escape plan.

So how do you develop a home fire escape plan?

  1. Ensure you have working smoke alarms on every story and near all sleeping areas. We have one hear my daughter’s room and one near mine. We replace the batteries twice a year. Did you know you should also replace your smoke alarm every ten years?
  2. Develop a home escape plan that is shared with all family members. Each member needs to know where the 2 exits are that they could use in the case of an emergency.
  3. Practice your escape plan with everyone.
  4. Help those who need it. Know who will help who. Who is responsible for the kids? an elderly parent?
  5. Get down and under the smoke. Most deaths are from smoke inhalation.
  6. Assign a meeting spot a safe distance from your home.
  7. Stay out. You never want to re-enter a burning building. Call the fire department from outside your home.

Please take from one who has lived through a fire, you want to have a fire escape plan. Tell me have you developed and practiced your plan lately? Now, might be a good time to do so.

 

 

Dealing with a Sugar Addiction

 

Have you ever watched a documentary and it changes the way you think? Ever listen to a speaker and have it have a deep impact? Just over a week ago I was at the Archangel Summit here in Toronto and Dr Stephanie from the Health Loft spoke about fats and sugars. As she spoke I knew she was talking to me. I am a sugar addict and need to deal with my sugar addiction. Since that day I have also watched That Sugar Film on Netflix Canada. It was very insightful.

Many of the ” healthy foods” we eat on a daily basis aren’t all that healthy. For me add to that, I turn to sugar and food for comfort and have since I was a young child. I realized I had an issue and I need to deal with this. As I type this I am in the midst of a sugar detox. No sugars of any kind. Let’s just say my body is definitely reacting to the years of abuse.

As I watched the documentary it did teach me some things I never knew. The average person here in Canada averages 88 pounds of sugar a year. It is literally one in every five calories. If you are at the grocery store and looking at labels 4g= 1 teaspoon. Our kids eat almost double that! The documentary scared me as I do want to have a good number of years ahead of me and diabetes after the age of fifty and heart disease run in my family. Literally, I am a walking time bomb. This has to change and it can

Are you at all worried about how much sugar you are eating?Your family eating? Here are some simple swaps you can make.

Healthy Food Swaps for kids

 

 

How am I dealing with my own sugar addiction?

  1. No pop, did you know that just one can a day increases your chance of diabetes by over 20%? I was drinking on average 2 cans a day. Now I am drinking lemon water, carbonated water with lemon (made at home with my Soda Stream) and my herbal teas.
  2. I am eating healthy fats. I wasn’t doing well with these so I am increasing my fish and avocado intake.
  3.  There are no white sugars, hidden sugars in my diet currently. I am currently sugar-free.  No sugar substitutes either for now but I do know in the days ahead I will add Stevia, Maple sryup, and honey to a small degree.
  4. I threw out 4 bags of food that was full of crap.
  5. Increased my greens and nut consumption.

Are you ready to take a look at the labels and see how they hide sugar or try to give it a healthy name: barley malt, agave nectar, beet sugar, carob syrup, coconut sugar, cane juice, brown sugar, honey, lactose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, yellow sugar, syrup, rice syrup, confectioner’s sugar, oat syrup, maple syrup, maltose, malt syrup, galactose, ethyl maltol, dextran, and the list goes on. There are over 60 different ways sugar is hidden in the labels of food.

Seriously learning is not about counting calories but more important is making the calorie count. Will they help my body heal?

I will be documenting this journey on my Instagram account mostly if you would like to follow it. I also highly recommend the documentary That Sugar Film on Netflix.

* I am no longer a member of the #streamteam so this post is not sponsored, no payment of any sort was received. My opinions as always are mind. Now go watch this documentary.