#OneEastToronto shares the faces of East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), a group of more than 50 community, primary care, home care, hospital and social services organizations in East Toronto, as well as patient and caregiver advisors, working together to improve the way people find and get care.
In celebration of National Volunteer Week (April 25 to 30), meet Khadija Nakhuda, a volunteer caregiver advisor.
“I’ve been volunteering in East York for more than 10 years at community centres, mosques and different community organizations. I am also part of the Board of Directors at South Riverdale Community Health Centre. A lot of my work has been dedicated to addressing barriers and gaps in care for Muslim women – for example, advocating and arranging safe spaces for Muslim women to swim and exercise.
I’m also very passionate about ensuring newcomers can easily find healthcare, social services and other supports that are close to where they live. This stems from my own experiences: I moved to Canada in my early 20s as a young mother and it was difficult to find the help I needed. I want to help ensure other newcomers can more easily find what they need, whether that be resettlement services, local play groups for children or anything else.
Over the past year, I’ve also been an advocate and spokesperson for many people in my community who need different services but don’t speak English. I speak English, Urdu and Gujarati and I use these skills to help people – many of them seniors – make appointments, navigate the health system and interpret information. In this way, I am an unpaid caregiver. Last fall, I joined East Toronto Health Partners’ (ETHP) Caregiver Advisory Group and the steering committee that works to improve care for seniors who have chronic illnesses and their caregivers.
I was motivated to join these groups because I wanted to be able to share my experiences and what I have seen in my work with seniors and family members when I try to connect them with different services. This is my way of advocating for change and for the communities I serve. There are many things that still need to happen to ensure care is integrated at a local level so people can find what they need as easily as possible. But I feel like my voice is heard in these groups and that the necessary steps are being taken.
I find it very rewarding if I can help even one person or change even one thing for the better. Joining the Caregiver Advisory Group and the steering committee for the seniors work means I am sitting at the same table as staff and leaders from our local healthcare system and it means I am part of the decision-making process, which is important. There’s a need for more people from racialized communities to be at these tables so together we can help make change and be a part of something bigger. I’m happy to do this for the community that has served me so well.”