Amy Illingworth’s world was turned upside down when her two-year-old daughter, Victoria, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy…within months she had quit her job, devoting all her time and energy to Victoria’s care.

Since the diagnosis, Illingworth’s life had been consumed by brochures, research and meetings with specialists. She realized quickly that she knew nothing about how to care for someone with a physical disability.

“From an education standpoint, it’s very challenging. From an emotional standpoint, it’s very challenging,” she said.

For Payal K., the stress of her daughter’s illness was compounded by the shock and confusion of recently immigrating to Canada from India.

Suddenly, Payal was going through a massive life change without any family support or community connections. She also had to learn how to navigate a brand new health-care system — one riddled with forms and procedures that can often be confusing for people who grew up here.

The biggest thing a hospital can do, in Douglas’s view, is put together a peer support network for parents to get practical assistance from “other parents who have walked this walk.”

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