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In this recipe, the essence of the caregiver is kept aside, similar to the starter in sour dough bread. This ‘starter’ will be needed to make and re-make the caregiver into different shapes and sizes as needs for her or him arise.


Recipe for Making A Caregiver

Start with a cool oven, but make sure to the turn temperature up slowly till it’s very hot.


When needs arise, tear off a bit of the starter.

Mix in:

Love for yeast

Muscle for flour

Determination for salt

Creative problem solving for water


Mix by throwing together. Let rise and then make sure that medical and insurance systems punch it down.


Let rise again.


Now, bake at a high temperature till done (remember, this recipe burns easily). Everyone eat – this recipe feeds many!


Start all over again when your loved one transitions to a new level of care.


NB: Remember, when a caregiver’s loved one passes away, the starter will be used to bake an entirely different recipe. It will have the same ingredients, but will look very different.


Bon appetit.


By Donna Thomson

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DONNA THOMSON began her career as an actor, director and teacher. But in 1988, when her son Nicholas was born with severe disabilities, Donna embarked on her second career as a disability activist, author, consultant and writer.

In her book, “THE FOUR WALLS OF MY FREEDOM”, (2010 in hard cover and 2014 in revised paperback, House of Anansi Press), Donna examines her personal family experience with caregiving, probing the ethics and economics of how families giving and receiving care can flourish in society.  Donna examines how social innovation leading to practical solutions can help families thrive even in very challenging circumstances – a subject she blogs about regularly at her site “The Caregivers’ Living Room” (   Donna also writes extensively for magazines on the topics of eldercare, disability parenting and family caregiving.

Donna is the Special Advisor for Caregiving at Tyze Personal Networks and is a Senior Advisor to the PLAN Institute for Caring Citizenship.  She is a board director of NeuroDevNet, a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE). She is the co-founder of Lifetime Networks Ottawa, a PLAN affiliate and speaks often on the subject of integrated, coordinated networks of professional and personal support to ease the way for families giving care in the community. Donna is also an instructor at the Advocacy School (Ottawa, Canada), teaching families how to employ best practice political advocacy strategies when advocating for care. She consults to hospitals and research projects, representing the interests of patients and families.

Donna holds degrees in Fine Art (Theatre), Education and Theatre in Education.  She has spoken on disability and family wellbeing extensively, including at the London School of Economics, the Skoll World Forum, and the International Centre for Evidence in Disability.

Donna is married to James Wright, the former High Commissioner for Canada in the UK.   They  have two children, one of whom has severe disabilities with medical complexity and Donna helps care for her mother (94 years young) as well. Donna lives in Ottawa, Canada  when she’s not escaping to the cottage in Quebec or to Cat Island, Bahamas.

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