Trouble Makers

Caregivers Are Real Trouble Makers

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Caregivers are trouble makers because they force us to think about health care differently.

Health care can be notoriously formal and procedural. There’s a reason for this. We want to hold our health care professionals to high clinical standards. It’s an important safeguard, but it can also be a hindrance if we intend to provide the best possible care.

From a caregiver’s perspective, the conflict arises when you realize that caring for someone with a life altering health condition is anything but procedural. It’s messy, complex, and highly variable from one situation to the next. Despite this, the next time you access a health care service they will likely try to fit your very curvy life into a very square hole. This will probably frustrate the hell out of you.

Systems, including health care, are not well adapted to dealing with “messy” situations. Ambiguity is the enemy of clinical clarity. Its unscientific, and consequently, ill adapted for highly procedural healthcare.  But so much of caregiving is ambiguous. It involves the intersection of so many unpredictable variables.

Even at our everyday paid jobs we expect a level of continuity or sameness. You don’t show up to your accounting job and someone asks you to conceive the next advertising campaign. But this isn’t true of caregiving. When you’re a caregiver, you’re the CEO of your very own care company and you have no employees. The buck starts and stops with you. I liken caregiving to the person on the street corner strapped to a drum, strumming a guitar, tapping their feet draped in symbols, and breathing through a harmonica (oh and don’t forget the dancing monkey on their shoulder).  Caregivers are the epitome of the one-person band.

I’ve spoken in past blogs about the launch of Huddol; our new social health network for caregivers that was built to create better care experiences. Among the many things that preoccupy me about the growth and evolution of Huddol, is how do we derive deep insight not only from the experiences that are shared among caregivers, but also from those that are unique. Reaffirming what we know is important in establishing clear and helpful support patterns, but learning from what is lesser known and unique often creates new and innovative breakthroughs. If Steve jobs had been satisfied with phones, you wouldn’t be able to carry this blog in your pocket. Real insight and creativity often emerges from the bringing together of two things that at first didn’t appear to have anything in common. Like two caregivers with unique lives.

In a spirit of continuing a legacy of making trouble and honoring those of you who also make the good trouble everyday through your complicated and beautiful caregiving lives, where we go next with Huddol is figuring out what happens when we mash together the unique and common experiences of millions of caregivers and seeing what comes out on the other side. What new insights will be born, what creative innovations will we discover, what really large ideas will we shake out of the innovation tree, together.

Join Us on Huddol


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About the Author

Mark Stolow , President and CEO, The Caregiver Network

Mark is a seasoned social entrepreneur and change marketer. He co-founded The Caregiver Network, the largest caregiver learning network in the country, and helped to shape the Canadian caregiver agenda through policy and program development, research, and breakthrough communications initiatives. / Mark est un entrepreneur social expérimenté et un marketeur de changement. Il a co-fondé le Réseau aidant, le plus grand réseau d’apprentissage pour les proches aidants du pays, et a aidé à façonner la mise en valeur des proches aidants Canadiens à travers l’élaboration de divers programmes et politiques de recherche, et d’initiatives de communications innovantes.


  1. Caregiving is courage. It’s a hard job. The loved one being cared for is not always cooperative and this makes it very hard. Dementia is a horrible disease!

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