Chelmsford caregiver receives national honour

It’s National Caregiver Day and a Sudbury area woman is being recognized. Kathy Kohls has been caring for her daughter Sandra for 45 years.

Sandra was born with Prader-Willi syndrome, which affects both her mental and physical abilities. She is non-verbal and is dependant on her mother for the necessities of life.

L'orna Newland, one of Kohl’s other daughters, nominated her mother for the Caring With Compassion award.

“She does everything," Newland said. "My mom is so humble about everything she does."

Kohls said she was flabbergasted when she found out she won.

“I feel blessed, but I feel that I’m doing my job," she said. "I had kids before her, and I’m positive she was sent to us to teach us about life.”

VHA Home Healthcare is a not-for-profit charitable organization that offers healthcare and support services mostly in southern Ontario. CEO Kathryn Nichol said service area doesn’t matter when it comes who wins the awards. It's the 17th year that the Heart of Home Care awards have been handed out to unpaid caregivers and family and friends who care for loved ones at home.

'Incredible contribution'

“Often caregivers go quietly about their business and are not looking for the glamour and the light, but I think what’s most important is for health system players, partners, politicians, policy makers just need to understand the incredible contribution that our family caregivers provide,” Nichol said.

According to the Carers Well-Being Index, a global survey of the impact of COVID-19 on caregivers, 29 per cent of caregivers in Canada say the biggest challenge they've faced during the pandemic is the inability to take a break; 71 per cent say they feel more burnt out than ever before.

Kohls said she has other caregivers that help her with her daughter's care and for that she is truly thankful.

“She has a worker who takes her out – Linda -- and I thought when this COVID hit that she would say well I can’t take her out anymore but she didn’t say that," she said.

"She takes her out and she used to go to Mountain Street and spend the weekend there, but that’s all closed down. But Linda has taken her a night or two, you know, which Sandra likes and it gives me a chance to sleep in in the morning.”

The Heart of Home Care event was held over ZOOM Tuesday and it featured videos showcasing the winners’ stories.