OFCAN is a not-for-profit organization operated by dedicated volunteers — fueled by their passion for change.
We connect groups in Ontario who support family caregivers of people with mental health and substance use disorders. In communities across this province, many dedicated volunteers are working hard in caregiver groups to enhance care services. These groups that share similar goals have been working in isolation and can now benefit from sharing information about lessons learned via this network. OFCAN helps the members of these groups connect and empowers them through a united voice.
We exist because people with mental illness including substance use disorders are underserved in Ontario and the caregivers who support them have received little attention. The needs of these caregivers differ from other caregivers in significant ways:
- Due to the ongoing stigma of mental illness and substance use disorders, our family caregivers often do not experience the same support responses from their communities and may be more isolated.
- Our family caregivers are more likely to be excluded from care planning due to stringent practices around consent to share health information.
- Lack of community support programs for people with mental illness and substance use disorders has placed the responsibility on families to provide this type of service for their loved ones who have complex needs.
- The scope of caregiver requirements is broad and includes being a legal advocate; providing long-term housing; and acquiring recovery skills, psycho-social training, and financial management skills.
- The lack of community support programs and the scope of caregiver requirements often contribute to increased hospital admissions and community supports for caregivers putting further strain on an already broken system.
To develop a community of family caregivers (including caregiver organizations and hospital family advisory councils) for those with mental illness including substance use disorders and to drive change through promotion of patient- and family-centred care, co-design, and recovery models to improve quality care and health outcomes of patients with mental illness and substance use disorders and their family caregivers.
To have a healthcare system that partners with and empowers family caregivers to improve healthcare for people who experience mental illness including substance use disorders, and their family caregivers.
The establishment and operation of a mental health caregiver network for the purpose of:
- Building a strong network of family groups who have the shared goal of enhancing mental health care including substance use disorder services;
- Fostering relationships and exchange of information between individuals and organizations involved in the provision of mental health and substance use disorder services; and
- eEducating and encouraging communication and partnerships between family caregiver groups.
“OFCAN is a significant agency for change.”
~ Liz Taylor, Founding member