Posted by & filed under Belonging, Case Studies, Tips On Using Tyze.


Photo by Julia Kozlov

Jules Andre Brown’s generation has been referred to as Generation We, Global Generation, Generation Next, the Net Generation, Millennials, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, Boomerang Generation and the Peter Pan Generation.

Although novelists and sociologists cannot seem to agree on a descriptive title, there is no doubt that this generation has come of age in an era when our planet and people are faced with some serious challenges.

Fortunately, there are emerging leaders finding new ways to capture the flickering minds and imaginations of their generation.

Jules is an example of a young leader, who creates change through everyday actions. One example of this is his facilitation of Tyze networks amongst his peers. It is an act that has become familiar to him through his professional work facilitating real life networks of support at Spectrum Society.

Tyze is a tool that has emerged through years of researching real life networks. It is designed to make it easier and more efficient for people to hold space and provide help. Holding space means when someone is going through something, you provide stable, solid ground for them to be completely where they’re at, without judgment, criticism or blame.

The insights that Jules has gained from his personal and professional work are applicable to a wide range of situations. Tyze has become a tool that he uses to rally support around friends when they are enduring difficult chapters of their lives. Two insights Jules has gained from his experiences:


1. When we listen to the person we are helping and hear their narrative, there is a tremendous amount of guidance gained.


2. When you are facilitating a network, it is about stepping back from the need to be a hero. It is about sharing the experience of helping. The best way to share this experience is by understanding the unique strengths of each person holding space in your network.


When there is someone needing support, Jules sees it as an opportunity for him and his friends to show up and contribute to their community. The act of setting up a network has become an automatic reflex when faced with a crisis. Perhaps, this reflex is an act that more of us will begin to adopt.

“Being there for someone is a gift. That reciprocity is a togetherness. It is an opportunity” said Jules.

What would the world be like if everyone facing struggles had a Tyze network set up for them?

What would the world be like if we were all contributing to networks by simply helping out whenever possible?


Posted by & filed under Stories.


This post was written by Donna Thomson

There’s an exit called Anderson Road on Highway 417 that runs between Ottawa and Montreal. I know that exit well, because it’s the shortcut between my son’s care home on the outskirts of Ottawa and my Mother’s senior’s residence in the West Island of Montreal. I am a sandwich caregiver and I am not alone.

According to a recent Canadian study commissioned by Desjardins Financial, 20% of professional women are caring for children and elderly parents at the same time. 17% of male professionals report being in the same boat as well. Having children later in life is one factor that often equates to a heavy burden of caregiving responsibilities, but so does the increased longevity of our parents. And within that 20% of active sandwich caregivers, there will be a significant few who are caring for a child with disabilities or a parent with severe dementia. Some will even be trying to balance work with complex nursing tasks at home.


For the past two years, our son Nicholas has lived in his own ‘apartment’ (it’s really a care home with round the clock nursing). We visit Nick almost daily and the days we don’t drive out to see him, we chat over Skype. When my children were small, my mother would often come to stay. Sometimes, I would come home to find her on a ladder, outside my house – cigarette dangling jauntily from her lips. “Mum, what are you doing?! Get down from there!” I would demand, my voice becoming a soprano. “Your windows are dirty! They’re not going to wash themselves. By the way, where’s your ironing?” my mother would retort.

My mother is a bona-fide ‘character’ – she is stubborn, funny, acerbic, generous and fiercely loyal. But she’s also a frequent hospital inpatient for recurrent bouts of the super-bug C-difficil. She is 92 years old and sometimes, she is in very poor health. My sister and I tag-team to look after my Mum and every day, I give thanks that both my sister and my Mum live in the same city. I am a couple of hours away by car, so I can help, but I can’t be there immediately if there’s an emergency. I’m the second wave of reinforcements.





One thing I have learned from my sandwich caregiving experience is that I cannot do it alone. If I want to give good care to my family, I must share the care and I must do it efficiently and strategically. That’s where Tyze comes in. I have a Tyze network for Nicholas and another one for my Mum. The two networks look very different. Nick’s Tyze site has a fairly large network consisting of his paid care staff, our General Practitioner and our family. My Mum’s site is just me, my sister and a couple of paid, part-time helpers.

Although the Tyze sites for my mother and my son appear different, they perform the same function for our family – they give us peace of mind about the well-being of our beloved and vulnerable family members. In Nick’s case, it’s more to do with medications, seizure control and planned outings, while Mum’s site is about her memory and her eating habits. Nutrition is a huge issue for my mother, so her Tyze site is often a record of what she’s eaten and whether she’s had the energy to have a game of bridge. In both cases, when I check the Tyze sites, I often exhale audibly. I sigh with the relief of knowing that my beloved son and mother are both doing fine. Even if they’re not and there is a problem, I feel buoyed by reading the reports of others. It’s the next best thing to being there.

Tyze gives me the information I need to decide…. Do I drop everything and go? Sometimes I do and sometimes, I don’t. But with Tyze, I always make an informed decision. Sandwich caregiving is challenging, but it’s a lot easier with Tyze.


Posted by & filed under Belonging.

It was a drizzly Vancouver BC day in early 2012 when I first met Vickie Cammack. We sat in a cozy coffee shop and discussed my new role caring for my mother.

Vickie has many years of personal and professional experience with caregiving. She helped me to understand and value my new role during a time when I felt invisible. We sat and discussed how caring for someone can teach us about love, what we are made of, and allow us to become our most human.




As my story poured out between us, I felt like an overflowing cup that could no longer avoid the inevitable reality of spilling.

“I want to have the right to be a caregiver.” I explained. This statement surfaced through the experience of being both seen and heard. Vickie nodded with absolute certainty.

 “These experiences create the soil of who you will become for the rest of your life.” replied Vickie.


Vickie Cammack, CEO of Tyze

Since this time, I have been searching for stories and conversations that bring the reality of caregiving to the surface. There are so many amazing voices out there! It is a great honour to capture some of these stories and conversations in this blog. Recently one story emerged that stirred up fascinating conversations throughout the social media realm.

Recently, a story came out titled “Let the Caregiving Movement Begin with the Caregiver Bill of Rights.” This movement proposes 10 essential caregiver rights. After reading this story, I met up with Vickie to capture her thoughts on this issue. Sherri Snellling announced the beginning of the next important civil rights movement in the US.

“Over the next 20+ years, the next civil rights issue we will face is a growing older population with more seniors needing care — whether diagnosed with a disease, disorder or living with a disability — and the need to recognize and support their family caregivers. We need a caregiving movement similar to other movements and milestones in the last century”

This story proceeds to propose 10 essential caregiver rights. After reading this story, I met up with Vickie to capture her thoughts on the issue.

She was excited about this story. However, she explained the need to push the conversation further.

“Rights are a starting place, but it does not equal belonging. Caregiving is an integral human role. So much of our society is constructed to make it difficult for us to fulfill our caregiving role and to feel satisfied and proud of it.


Caregiving is often perceived as sacrifice. What if we saw it as a profound experience that provides richness in our lives? It is important to support the rights of caregivers. It is also important to acknowledge caregivers as a valued part of the fabric of our society.”

We need to challenge the invisibility that so many caregivers and patients fall into. Can you imagine a world where caregivers are counted, valued, acknowledged, seen and heard? Do you think that we need to continue pushing the conversation further?

Please feel welcome to comment below or join us on our facebook page:

Posted by & filed under Belonging, Stories.


Last weekend, I was watering a big zucchini plant in my front yard when an elderly woman walked by. I decided to say “hi” and she also said “hi”. We began chatting and it turned out that she lives on my block and has been growing food for many years. We found our common ground through gardening. It didn’t matter that there are over four decades that divided us.

After our conversation, she went back to her home and plucked two large zucchinis from her garden to share with me. As she handed me her generous gift, it became clear that she had successfully reached out across a gap. It was an awesome moment.

There is a magic that happens when people reach out like this. Have you ever experienced it? Here are some more fantastic examples from all over the world.

DIY Arts and Crafts – The Amazings (United Kingdom)



In the UK, there is a phenomenal new style of education called “The Amazings.” Anyone over the age of 50 can become an “Amazing”. There are no traditional qualifications required. You don’t need to have letters after your name. The main requirement is passion and a desire to share your wisdom about a specific skill.

This for-profit company began with a vision to create a marketplace and platform for wisdom.

“We see Amazingness everywhere. It’s the retired postman who can play the ukulele. It’s the grandparent who knows morse code. It’s the neighbour who was an opera singer. Maybe society isn’t as good at passing down these skills through generations as we used to be.”

If you can’t pop over to attend a class in the UK, you can check out their online classes.

Community Dialogue – Gen Why: Bring Your Boomers (Canada)

Bring Your Boomers

Gen Why Media is a production group that collaborates across disciplines to create media, events, workshops, public art and intergenerational dialogues that engage society in new forms of public engagement.

Bring Your Boomers is a series of events created by Gen Why Media. They bring fascinating folks together and facilitate ‘living room style’ conversations. This creates an informal but important space for the public to re-evaluate their opinions, assumptions, values and beliefs while connecting with members of their community. These events also include cultural performances from artists in the community.

Humour Therapy and Songs – Arts Health Institute (Australia)

Screen shot 2013-07-23 at 7.49.02 PM

The Arts Health Institute is a non-profit organization in Australia that brings a child-like playfulness into the hearts and minds of folks who have entered aged care communities and often feel discarded. They “enable life changing programs in hospitals, aged care facilities and in the general community.” The programs include Play Up and Sing Out Loud Together.

The Play Up Program uses humour therapy and was the subject of a world-first, large-scale randomized controlled trial improving depression, social engagement and reducing agitation. It was also the subject of a documentary, The Smile Within, broadcast on ABC1 on 4th March 2012.

Music Education – Brookline Music School (United States)


Brookline Music School provides accessible music education and monthly performance in retirement communities and rehabilitation facilities. These performances provide interactive experiences with professional musicians and their students in an intimate setting. Their faculty performers offer programs featuring classical soloists, vocalists and chamber music, Jazz combos, and music of other cultures.

Please feel welcome to share your stories about intergenerational experiences on our facebook page: or comment below. We would love to hear from you!

Posted by & filed under Stories.

Family 1-2


This post was originally written by Donna Thomson in The Caregiver’s Living Room


The Lessons I Have Learned in My Life of Caregiving

For some reason, last night our alarm rang at 4am. My husband quietly cursed and fumbled to turn it off. We both lay awake after that and quite soon, I could hear his deep and measured breathing. He was asleep, but I was alert in the dark. The words in my head were, “what have I learned?” I began to reflect on what my children have taught me over the years.


There is a language of shared humanity which is not verbal. It is a watchful, intent, fascinated state of observation that never wanes because it is fuelled by love. Nicholas speaks only a few words, so when I chat with him, I sit forward, eyes scanning his body for clues to expression. I watch his eyes, or perhaps the tilt of his head to see if he is pointing to something in his room by looking for it. I observe a smile play around his lips and I begin to imagine what the joke might be. When he was small and I spent far too many hours holding his arching body and stiff limbs, I learned to read every fine movement as he struggled to find comfort in my arms.


The language of shared humanity is, at its most fundamental, a language of touch. A loving thought communicated by a hand outstretched on another’s arm and held there until the thought is shared silently is what I am talking about. The idea of “I will take care of you” or “I will take your pain” passes through skin, into flesh and courses through the blood until it reaches the other’s brain and resonates there – a sentiment understood without speaking.


I have learned that some people, but not all, want to help a family like ours. I learned that it is much better to say “yes, please!” to those who do wish to help and enter our world.

Very recently, I went to a neighborhood drinks party. There was a woman I recognised but couldn’t place. She approached me, asking “Do you remember me? I’m Jack’s Mom. Nicholas and Jack were in grade five together and Nicholas came to our house to play”. “Of course!” I replied, my eyes widening. Now I remembered this woman’s warm, insistent voice. Years ago, she offered to befriend me and for her son to befriend Nicholas. I was amazed and touched by her goodness and her persistence.

I’ve also been surprised and sad that some I considered good friends turned away from us in our hour of greatest need. Then, I learned to accept human frailty – to not be bitter, but grateful for those who do embrace us.


I have learned that nature is a healing force. When I had trouble feeding Nicholas, I watered my garden. When I had no peace in my head from re-playing conversations about what the future might hold, I walked in the woods. When I felt trapped by my child’s overwhelming needs, I swam in our lake and felt free. When I felt hopeless, I watched my dog chase a squirrel and return to me, her tail wagging.


I have learned that there is no efficiency and no joy in trying to meet all the needs of my loved ones by myself. I learned that a group of caring family members and friends can work together to support us if they are organized and have an effective way of communicating with each other.


I learned that the purpose of life is to keep going, keep breathing, keep putting one foot in front of the other and to help those I love to do the same. I learned that happiness is sometimes a choice, and that despair is always an enemy.


I have learned that it is possible to have a rich life, even if one is very old or very disabled. This is possible with curiosity, a sense of humor, a sociable personality and an optimistic nature.


I have learned that kindness is the greatest virtue.

These are some of the lessons that I have learned over the years from caring for my family.


Connect with Donna and The Caregiver’s Living Room on facebook.

Posted by & filed under Belonging, Resources.

In 2011, Adrienne Gruberg ended her role as a caregiver. She had lost two family members to cancer after six years of providing full-time care. Although Adrienne felt alone in her experiences, she knew that she was 1 of 65 million caregivers in the US, who were also feeling unheard.

Turning a Struggle into a Movement

Through her suffering and grief, Adrienne (below) began to envision a way for caregivers to have a voice and support each other. Adrienne found a team to provide the expertise necessary to make her vision turn into reality.

The Caregiver Space was launched as a caregiver-driven community and has been growing exponentially ever since.


Making Caregiving More Manageable

When providing care, it is important to be organized and to feel supported. In order to make your caregiving more manageable, you might find it helpful to create an online support system like Tyze, so that you can coordinate and share the care of your loved one with other important people in your lives. Being able to get help from others can help provide respite.

When you have established a support system, it is important to acknowledge that the reality of a caregiver is difficult for most people to understand. The Caregiver Space helps you connect with other caregivers, so that there is a whole network of folks who hear you, see you, and understand the complex reality and uncertainties faced each day.  


Click on this image to donate to The Caregiver Space


 The Caregiver Space Needs Your Help

As this thriving community grows, the team at The Caregiver Space has felt the need to find additional sources of support. So far, Adrienne has been keeping things going out of her own pocket. They never want to charge caregivers to use the site but they do need public support until they can secure some larger grants. 

Please donate to the Indegogo campaign for The Caregiver Space

When you donate, you are becoming part of the caregiver-driven movement that is giving a voice to people who often become invisible. Our caregivers deserve all the support they can get. The gift of being heard is one of the most important things we can provide.



Posted by & filed under News.

May 27, 2013 For Immediate Release – Tyze CEO Vickie Cammack to Appear on ‘In Conversation’ with Nesta CEO Geoff Mulgan

May 27, 2013 VANCOUVER, BC –

On Thursday May 30, 2013, Nesta CEO Geoff Mulgan will interview Tyze Personal Networks Founder and CEO Vickie Cammack. In this conversation on technology and care Vickie will be talking about why she thinks we need a whole new approach to care. She’ll present her ideas on how we can use technology to organise and activate a network model of care. And she’ll also share some of her stories from life as an entrepreneur.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Belonging, News, Resources.

Vickie Cammack Interview by Silvia Cambie: No, it isn’t Social. It’s Personal.



If you’re like me and spend a lot of time worrying about your aging parents, you should forget about social networking. What you need is a personal network.

I met with Vickie Cammack this week, one of Canada’s 100 most powerful women and CEO of Tyze, a personalized online community for families, friends and health professionals who care for elderly or disabled people.

Tyze was created as a spin-out of Plan Institute, a Canadian advocacy body for families with disabled members. “We took our knowledge and married it with the social web,” says Vickie.

Tyze has 10,000 members, 500 of which are in the UK. It is private network that people join only by invitation. There is no data mining or advertising.

Read full article here.