Delivering Excellence in Lifelong Learning
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Caregiving Essentials

Enhance your knowledge of the caregiver role

Information and support you need


Registration is Now Open!  



Caregiving Essentials is now offered in French. Learn more about Les Soins Essentiels here

Do you act as a family or informal caregiver for an older adult? Have you been looking for information and support?

We invite you to participate in Caregiving Essentials. This course is designed for the sole purpose of supporting and empowering family caregivers. The skills and knowledge learned are meant to benefit caregivers in any way they choose.

This course is not connected to or affiliated with the Essential Family Caregiver designation or any other requirements to access any health care setting. 

This course enables you to learn at your own pace, when it is most convenient for you. You will work through course content and activities, as well as meet others through an online discussion board and interactive virtual presentations.

Course participants who complete the course before August 8, 2022 will receive a Certificate of Completion from Desire2Learn (D2L). If you achieve a score of 80% in all post-module surveys, a certificate will automatically be generated for you the next time you log into the course.

How to get started?

Registration involves 2 steps:

This course is open enrollment; you may join any time between October 12, 2021 and July 8, 2022. The course will end on August 8, 2022 regardless of when you join.

What topics does the course include:

  • Adopting the caregiver role, including legal and financial information
  • How to navigate the health care system 
  • How to take care of yourself so you can care for someone else
  • Health and medical information management
  • Resources
  • COVID-19 Conversations Corner

What is involved in the course?

Caregiving Essentials is a not-for-credit course that is delivered entirely online. This learning model enables you to work through the course at your own pace. The course will guide you through four modules, and direct you to a wide variety of resources. People are welcome to take advantage of resources, peer to peer support in discussion boards and learning and engagement with timely Caregiving Essential topics in our Webinar Series. For optimal learning in this program we recommend you spend 20-30 hours over an 8-10 week period, but you may complete the course on your own time.  Upon completion you may wish to download and print a co-branded certificate.    While we encourage you to participate; there are no mandatory assignments or grades.

Woven through the course content is a Caregiver Action Plan (CAP) which you will be prompted to complete in order to prepare for expected and unexpected situations.  

Because the course is delivered entirely online, you should have reliable access to a computer and the internet to participate. The course can be done in your home, or in a public space, such as a library. You will also need an email address to register for the course. 

View Course Outline

Who is the Caregiving Essentials course for?

This course was designed for caregivers of older adults and funded through the Ontario Ministry of Seniors Affairs. Given the COVID-19 crisis, it is now open to anyone new to caregiving. Many principles and realities of providing care in a family or informal context are the same regardless of diagnosis. This noted, McMaster University asks that you consult your healthcare provider or public health for evidence-based guidance in the case of illness, including COVID-19.

What are people saying about the course?

“The material was very well organized... It lent itself well to doing things independently and online which is what I was looking for.”

“ was kind of refreshing to get the perspective that there's lots of people out there dealing with this...It helped me keep everything in perspective.”

“ built my confidence because when your loved one becomes ill, it's very overwhelming...This kind of calmed me down and said, 'Yeah, I can do this. I can handle this’.”

Read more!

We Need Your Help!


Caregiving Essentials Research Project

Are you a caregiver providing informal care to a friend or family member? Did you recently participate in the Caregiving Essentials course? If so, we invite you to participate in a research study which would include a 45–60-minute online interview to discuss with us your experience in this course and how it may have helped you in your caregiving journey. We would love to hear from you! Learn more about the research project and how you can participate here

This course has been made possible through a collaboration with the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, Thrive Group, and McMaster Continuing Education. Funding was provided by the Ontario Ministry of Seniors Affairs. Further funding through the Regional Geriatric Programs of Ontario enables the course's sustained delivery. 

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