I recently attended an emotional workshop about managing the demands of caring for an elderly parent. Almost everyone in attendance was there because they were caring for a loved one, sometimes in heartbreaking situations. Unfortunately, their situations are not unique: 28% of Canadian adults provide care to people with long-term health needs, of which the most common are related to aging. Fortunately, there is hope: with the help of the workshop’s facilitator, Zoe Levitt (M.S.W., R.S.W.), we learned about the resources available to people caring for elderly loved ones in Ontario.
The CCAC provides services to a wide variety of people needing need, including people with disabilities and certain mental illnesses, but they are mostly known for their elder care resources. One of the most important services the CCAC provides is determining eligibility for publicly funded services such as personal support workers and long-term care homes.
The CCAC process usually begins with a referral from a physician. To learn more about the criteria for a referral, you can contact the CCAC by phone.
Personal Support Workers
PSWs can perform a wide variety of tasks, ranging from assisting with personal hygiene to preparing food and cleaning. If someone is deemed eligible by the CCAC, they will connect the client with a PSW agency, who will set up a schedule for home visits.
PSWs can be hired independently of the CCAC as a personal expense. Although there is no standard accreditation, there are many programs that certify PSWs and teach them how to work with the elderly.
Visiting Health Professional Services
People whose need has been determined by the CCAC are eligible for home visits from a variety of health professionals, including nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, and physiotherapists.
Long-term Care Homes
Long-term care homes are health facilities operated by the government and at uniform government standards. They are intended for clients who need a great deal of assistance based on their age, and provide all the necessary services. Long-term care homes are not known to prioritize the comfort of their clients; rather, they focus on health and physical well-being. Although long-term care homes are largely funded by the government, they do demand co-payments to pay for food and other expenses, but these co-payments can be reduced based on need. Care homes also charge more for private rooms and optional services.
Eligibility for admission to a long-term care home is determined by the CCAC, which will also connect clients with potential homes in the area. In some cases, clients may need to put their names on a waitlist, so it is best to begin the process early.
Retirement homes are privately owned and operated, although they though must obey minimum standards established by the government. Each retirement home sets its own policies, including admission restrictions, although they are generally more lenient than the eligibility requirements of long-term care homes. Each retirement home also provides different services; some may be intended for people who are very high-functioning, whereas others may be focussed on those who have greater medical needs and are less dependent. Other services and comforts vary across retirement homes.
Because they are private enterprises, and because they do not receive very much government funding, retirement homes can be prohibitively expensive.
The Family Care Office hosts a webinar on senior housing options that can be viewed at any time. Speaker Esther Goldstein discusses possible resources for elderly people who are no longer capable of living in unassisted environments, and how those options can be explored.