What is an observatory?
An observatory is a tool for developing an analytic vision on a defined subject through the democratic participation of different actors involved on the topic. The observatory’s aim is to identify issues and evaluate knowledge and possible solutions by creating, collecting, compiling and interpreting evidence. To fulfill this aim and ensure that the topics analyzed are relevant, while also making certain that the information produced is used by actors on the ground, the observatory maintains close links with the individuals and organizations (researchers, professionals and practitioners, community organizations, target population, etc.) related to its research topic. An observatory can provide global and plural views on specific issues, as well as recognized expertise on both sectoral and cross-cutting issues that can benefit users. Finally, the observatory is meant to improve public action by supporting the development of efficient solutions.
Why an observatory on caregiving?
As described in the national strategy to support caregivers entitled “Empower and support caregivers, these essential allies for a fair province of Quebec,” the caregiving field is currently fractured along the lines of type of illness, the health condition of the person being helped and his or her age. There is no synergy or comprehensive data regarding all caregivers. For example, it is very difficult to know the depression rate among caregivers, although this information is available for those taking care of people living with cancer or Alzheimer’s. The knowledge and perceptions of different actors is thus fragmented; the solutions they provide are not enough to address the needs of some caregivers and can even lead to unequal treatment.
In the fifth principle of its national strategy, the RANQ calls for greater synergy between the research sector, health professionals and organizations working with caregivers. Today, it seems necessary for the RANQ to go further by creating a tool such as an observatory which would hold a structuring position in the field of caregiving. Research and actions related to caregiving are too often subsidiary to other research. As a result, expertise remains underdeveloped, which prevents the possibility of assessing the scope of the specific challenges experienced by caregivers and developing efficient solutions. In addition, community organizations in Quebec are a source of social innovation, but these innovations remain unknown because there are no evaluations or options for dissemination.
By creating an observatory, the province of Quebec would become an example of innovation. It would build an expertise cluster with a provincial, federal and perhaps even an international scope, and would promote the knowledge and skills of its experts, whether researchers, professionals or community organizations.
The mandate of an observatory on caregiving:
- Bolster the action and intervention capacities of the various actors involved in the field of caregiving.
- Collect and summarize information in order to better guide decisions made by those involved in caregiving.
- Support the development of new knowledge on the issues and needs of caregivers, and on the actions required to improve their living conditions while respecting the person they support.
- Foster synergy and cooperation between the different actors and institutions concerned with caregiving.
- Promote the province of Quebec’s expertise regarding caregiving.
- Support and disseminate this knowledge to a wide audience.
- Contribute to the development of healthy policies that have implications for caregivers or the people they support.
- Start-up grants for research or pilot projects
- Forums, seminars, one-day conferences
- Publications and summarized information for public outreach
- Practical tools
Mode of operation
To fulfill its mission, the observatory on caregiving must remain:
- Independent and nonpartisan
- Democratic and participatory
- Collegial and representive of the different actors involved in caregiving
Funding for the operations and wages (1.5 FTEs) of the Observatory on caregiving could come from a special joint fund from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQ-S) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et Culture (FRQ-SC). The start-up grants could be provided by the FRQ-S and the FRQ-SC and be supplemented, depending on the theme, by partnerships with institutes or research networks (Institut de recherche Robert Sauvé en santé et sécurité au travail (IRSST), The Quebec Population Health Research Network, Quebec Network on Nursing Intervention Research, etc.) as well as by special calls for projects from government ministries (Health and Social Services, Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity, Economy, Science and Innovation, Families and Seniors, Finance, Status of Women, Education and Higher Education, etc.)
Les observatoires locaux : quelle méthodologie pour les conduire ? Jean-Bernard Chebroux (2011) https://journals.openedition.org/socio-logos/2620
Observatoire sur la gouvernance de l’Ontario français. http://observatoiregouvernance.ca/