How Family Caregivers Can Maintain Their Mental Health During COVID-19
See below for a booklet on how to maintain your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
My Cancer Circle (Online Tool)
My Cancer Circle is a free, private online tool that helps organize the community of people who want to help you as a caregiver. You can use the tool to coordinate the efforts of those around you to help them support you and the person facing cancer.
ELLICSR Kitchen (Offered Online)
The ELLICSR Kitchen Program can be accessed online or in person. It is designed to support people touched by cancer by hosting a series of dynamic healthy cooking demonstrations.
In-Person Professional Support (Offered Online/By Phone During COVID-19)
The Second Mile Club
This program provides free support from a trained social worker for caregivers living in Toronto. It includes one-on-one support over the telephone or in-person. In-person visits are offered at a time and location that is most convenient to the caregiver (including an option for home visits). Group support is offered multiple times a month at different locations.
Gilda's Club Greater Toronto
Gilda's Club is a place where anyone touched by cancer can become part of a welcoming community of support. Membership and all programs are offered at no charge. Gilda's Club offers a support group for any friends or family members who have a loved one with a cancer diagnosis. This group may touch upon such topics as: managing at home, alternative or complementary treatments, healthy lifestyle choices, and dealing with emotions. This group also has a focus on the self-care of the family member or friend.
Wellspring is a network of community-based support centres offering programs and services that meet the emotional, social, practical, and restorative needs of people living with cancer and those who care for them. Wellspring programs are offered free of charge. Caregivers Connect: Support and Relaxation is a group program at Wellspring that provides a community for caregivers of cancer patients to meet with one another. This is a combined support group and relaxation program that provides caregivers (family members, friends or others who play a significant role in the care of the cancer patient) the opportunity to meet with others to share and discuss the challenges of the caregiving role. This program is a drop-in and requires no ongoing commitment. Wellspring offers a range of other programs that are open to caregivers, such as Meditation, Tai Chi, and Yoga.
This program serves the Durham region. It offers a caregiver support group free of charge, as well as other programs that are open to caregivers, such as The Healing Journey.
Mindfulness-Based Programs (Many Offered Online)
These 4-8 week community programs aim to help people manage stress, including caregiver-related stress.
Online Professional Support
Huddol is an online community for caregivers. It is a free platform to connect with experts and other caregivers.
CaregiverExchange is a website that provides practical guides and a comprehensive list of services and resources for caregivers in Ontario.
CancerCare is an American organization that offers free online support groups. Online support groups take place using a password-protected message board format (not live chat) and are led by oncology social workers who offer support and guidance. They have a wide range of groups for caregivers.
Ontario Caregiver Helpline
The Ontario Caregiver Helpline provides caregivers with a one-stop resource for information and support. The helpline provides 24/7 support by phone or as an online chat. The helpline is answered by professional Community Resource Specialists in English and French.
Family Caregivers of British Columbia
Family Caregivers of British Columbia is a website that offers free resources, webinars, podcasts and online classes on a range of caregiver-related topics.
Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation
The CareMakers Foundation provides eLearning tools for caregivers.
Peer Support (Offered Online/By Phone During COVID-19)
Canadian Cancer Society Peer Support
This is a free and confidential online service for adults 18 years and older who have been diagnosed with cancer or who are caring for someone with cancer.
This program serves Thornhill, Markham, and Whitchurch-Stouffville. Trained volunteers offer respite visits and drop-in support groups for caregivers.
Healing Beyond the Body (HBB)
Healing Beyond the Body (HBB) is now available virtually. HBB volunteers can connect with any patient or caregiver receiving care at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Volunteers are specially trained to offer emotional support, and casual conversation to distract and keep you company, especially during this isolating time. They can also help navigate the many resources available through UHN and in the community, and offer a regular check-in conversation that is mutually scheduled between the patient/caregiver and volunteer. HBB volunteers can also connect in some languages other than English to provide people an opportunity to connect in their native language. You can self-refer by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 416 946 2000 ext. 3311 directly with your name and contact information or MRN.
March of Dimes Canada
This program offers online caregiver groups and webinars.
Ontario Caregiver Association
The Ontario Caregiver Association is offering one-on-one peer mentorship and/or online peer support groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professional and Peer Support for Specific Cancers
Brain Tumour Foundation
This organization provides in-person and online support groups and one-on-one support for caregivers of individuals with a brain tumour.
Brain Tumour Support Group
On the second Tuesday of each month, the Gerry & Nancy Pencer Brain Tumour Centre at the Princess Margaret holds 2 separate group sessions, one for patients and one for family members and friends. The 2 groups run at the same time. No registration is required.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada
This organization provides online support groups and peer-to-peer telephone support to caregivers of individuals with blood cancer.
This organization provides online and in-person peer support groups for patients with Multiple Myeloma and their family caregivers.
Prostate Cancer Canada Network (PCCN) Side by Side Peer Support
Peer volunteers are available by phone or in-person to support caregivers of individuals with prostate cancer.
TrueNTH Peer Navigation (For Caregivers of Men Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer)
This is a one-on-one peer support program. If you are a caregiver or a man diagnosed with prostate cancer, this free program can help you:
- Talk to someone about their real experiences
- Receive practical, informational and emotional support
- Find ways to overcome barriers to your care and recovery
- Feel empowered, supported and reassured
You will be able to connect with your Peer Navigator online, in person, or by telephone.
Kidney Cancer Canada
This is a national community of patients, caregivers and health professionals who work to provide support, education and advocacy for kidney cancer patients and their caregivers. Their website includes an online discussion forum where you can network with other patients and caregivers.
Caregiving and Work
Cancer and Work
The Cancer and Work website provides a number of guides for caregivers who are employed and may need to take time off.
Employment Insurance (EI) Programs
The Government of Canada currently offers 2 programs for caregivers: compassionate care benefits and family caregiver benefits. Compassionate care benefits can be used for up to 26 weeks and family caregiver benefits can be used for up to 15 weeks. If you have questions about the programs offered, or need help completing any application forms, you can be connected with a social worker at the
Psychosocial Oncology Clinic. You can also self-refer to speak with our social workers by calling 416-946-4525.
For questions about money related to cancer, you can contact a Wellspring Money Matters Case Manager. It is free and confidential. You may book an appointment in person, by phone, or online.
Supporting Young Families and Children
The Magic Castle at Princess Margaret
The Magic Castle is a free childcare service at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre for babies and children up to 12 years old.
Gilda's Club Greater Toronto (Now Offered Online)
Gilda’s Club is a place where anyone touched by cancer can become part of a welcoming community of support. Membership and all programs are offered at no charge. Gilda’s Club offers programs for kids and teens. All programs are professionally facilitated by Child Life Specialists, Social Workers, and dedicated volunteers.
Wellspring (Now Offered Online)
Wellspring is a network of community-based support centres offering programs and services that meet the emotional, social, practical and restorative needs of people living with cancer and those who care for them. Wellspring programs are offered free of charge. At each Wellspring centre, there is a specialized Family Counsellor who is trained to help families with respect to a parent’s illness with cancer.
Online Support for End of life & Grief
The Family Caregiver Decision Guide
This is an online tool to help families make decisions at the end of life.
What to Expect in the Last Days and Hours of Life
This UHN Patient Education guide provides information for patients and their caregivers about common things that may happen in the last days of life.
Canadian Virtual Hospice
The Virtual Hospice website provides useful guides about advance care planning, funeral planning, and home care.
MyGrief.ca is a free online guide that can help you understand grief and work through some of the difficult issues you may be facing. MyGrief.ca has been developed by a team of national and international grief experts together with people who have experienced significant loss in their own lives.
Acclaim Health provides virtual bereavement one-to-one support sessions and support groups.
Soaring Spirits International
Soaring Spirits offers programs that connect widowed people around the world. They provide both online and in-person opportunities for finding peer support.
In-Person Support for End of Life & Grief (Offered Online/By Phone During COVID-19)
Bereaved Families of Ontario
This organization, through 11 affiliated organizations throughout Ontario, provides one-to-one support sessions and in-person peer support groups for bereaved caregivers.
The Sinai Health Circle of Care program offers Grief and Bereavement Virtual Support Groups and Individual Bereavement Support.
Wellspring is a network of community-based support centres. The Bereavement Support Group at Wellspring provides an opportunity to meet with others who are experiencing the pain of loss due to cancer. Under the guidance of a professional group leader who specializes in bereavement, participants will share their stories and feelings, and explore ways of coping with loss. Registration is required with a commitment to attend once a week for a period of 8 weeks.
Gilda's Club Greater Toronto
Gilda’s Club offers a weekly Adult Bereavement Support Group. This group is a chance for individuals to come and share their experiences of loss with others who have lost a friend or family member to cancer. This is a meaningful, therapeutic group that encourages participants to explore and share their experiences and feelings around their grief. Topics may include: guilt/anger, packing up possessions and keeping memories, triggers, and self-care.
Hospice Toronto Bereavement Support Program
This program offers family and friends one-on-one peer support either by phone or in person. Hospice Toronto is also offering bereavement support groups.
Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice
This program is located in Hamilton and provides free in-person grief support groups.
This program serves Thornhill, Markham, and Whitchurch-Stouffville. It offers one-on-one and group support.
The Jewish Hospice Program
The Jewish Hospice Program is a free, home-centred program in Toronto and York Region for clients and families who identify as Jewish. The program provides counselling, care planning, resource identification, advocacy, chaplaincy and volunteer support to patients and their families, and bereavement support.
Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities (SCHC) Bereavement Care
This program serves Scarborough and provides one-on-one or group bereavement support.
Supporting Children Through Dying and Death of a Parent
Support to Help Children and Youth Cope
This UHN Patient Education guide has information for parents and other family members to support children and youth with feelings of grief.
Acclaim Health provides one-on-one support for children and youth who have a loved one living with a life limiting or palliative illness, or have experienced the death of a loved one.
Help Us Understand Grief (H.U.G.G.) Program
The H.U.G.G. program is offered by Heart House Hospice and serves families in Peel and Halton. It offers in-home visits to support children (up to the age of 18) who are living with the dying or death of a family member. Referrals for services are accepted from any source, including self-referrals.
The Light House
The Light House is located in Oakville and offers free telephone consultations and in-person grief support groups for children and youth as well as workshops for their caregivers.
Evergreen serves Thornhill, Markham and Whitchurch-Stouffville. The program offers one-on-one support for grieving children and youth.
The Jewish Hospice Program
The Jewish Hospice Program is a free, home-centred program in Toronto and York Region for clients and families who identify as Jewish. The program provides services for children and families coping with a parent's illness.
Dr. Woolhouse is a family physician with over 15 years experience in working with children, teens and families. She has particular expertise in end of life care, medical assistance in dying, substance abuse, mental illness and suicide. She provides short-term therapy for children, teens and their families who are grieving the dying and death of someone close. Referrals from doctors or nurse practitioners are preferred but not required. Please fax referrals to 1 855 933 1220. Self-referrals can be sent via email to:
email@example.com. All her services are covered by OHIP. Home/hospital visits are possible.
Weathering the Storm: Parenting Grieving Children
This is an e-learning course provided by the Family Education Centre and developed in partnership with The Children and Youth Grief Network to help parents of grieving children and youth navigate the unfamiliar territory of providing care after someone has died.