Elder care homes in Canada
By Delaney Rombough
Posted on June 21, 2021
Getting older isn’t always easy. Fortunately, there are institutions and homes across Canada that can help make your life easier as you age. It should be noted that different provinces may offer slightly different services, so you should check on your provincial government’s health website for more specific details.
Long-term care homes
Long-term care (LTC) homes are places where adults can live and receive help with most daily activities and have 24-hour access to nursing and personal care. Some LTC homes are for profit and others are not-for-profit. In order to qualify to live in a long-term care home, you must be 18 years old or older, have a valid health card, and have health needs such as a need for 24-hour nursing, assistance with daily activities, or supervision to ensure your safety and well-being. All personal and nursing care is funded by the government, but you will need to pay for charges such as room and board. LTC facilities are typically furnished and include amenities such as living space, 24-hour personal care, meals, housekeeping and laundry, personal hygiene supplies, and more. To arrange for long-term care, call your Local Health Integration Network (LNHI) at 310-2222 or enter your postal code on http://healthcareathome.ca/.
Retirement homes are different than LTC homes. Retirement homes are privately-owned and don’t offer 24-hour nursing care. They rent private accommodation to seniors who can live with little or no help. It is similar to renting an apartment. To live in a retirement home, you have to be able to pay for your own care and living expenses. It can cost between $1,500 and $6,000 per month for a private room. The home may assess your needs to ensure it can provide you with the right level of support. Common services and facilities at retirement homes include your own room, wheelchair accessibility, housekeeping, meals, laundry, social and recreational programs, and shared dining room and common spaces, but these may vary from home to home. To find a retirement home in your area contact your Local Health Integration Network, search licensed homes by name, city, or postal code through the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority website http://www.rhra.ca/, or call 1-855-ASK-RHRA (1-855-275-7472), and then send an application directly to the retirement home.
Assisted living communities provide support for those who may need some assistance with daily tasks but don’t require the 24-hour care of a long-term care home. This is for individuals who need help with things like bathing, mobility, or taking daily medication. There is usually a nurse or other health-care professionals available on an as-needed basis. Assisted living communities may be in an apartment building or complex, and residents usually live in a one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or bachelor suite. Amenities are similar to that of long-term care homes and retirement homes.
Palliative care is for patients and their families facing a serious, life-limiting illness. It aims to relieve suffering and improve the patient’s and family’s quality of life at all stages of the illness. This type of care focuses on treating the impact that the illness has on the patient, and it is often provided along with the medical treatment of the illness itself. Physicians and nurses assess and manage the progression of the illness. Palliative care seeks to improve comfort and quality of life through pain and symptom management. Services may include: personal support services, psychological, spiritual, and bereavement support, and other services such as physiotherapy, caregiver support, and pharmacy. You can access palliative care through your primary health care provider (for example, your family doctor can provide you with a referral) or by contacting your Local Health Integration Network, your local hospital, or a long-term care home. This type of care is delivered in all-care settings including individual homes, hospices, hospitals, and long-term care homes. There is no cost for receiving medically necessary care in your home, at a hospice, or at a hospital.
Seniors can often stay in their homes and get the support they need even if they have complex medical conditions. There are a variety of types of in-home care such as:
- Homemaking: Homemaking services can help maintain a safe and comfortable home and offer services such as cleaning, laundry, shopping, caring for children, and banking.
- Personal care: Personal care health-care professionals can assist with daily care activities such as bathing, hair care, dressing and undressing, eating, mobility, and taking you to appointments.
- Family-managed home care: This program is available to those with the following needs: children with complex medical conditions, adults with a brain injury, homeschooled children with qualifying health needs, or other extraordinary circumstances.
- End-of-life care at home: There are many options available if you or a loved one require end-of-life care at home. Services that are available include: nursing and personal care, medical supplies, hospital and sickroom equipment, pain management, home hospice services, tests, and transportation to other health services.
To arrange home care, call your Local Health Integration Network (LHNI) at 310-2222 or visit their website and enter your postal code. You will then be introduced to a case manager or care coordinator, who will determine if you qualify for government-funded care. If you don’t qualify, you may be eligible for services provided by community agencies, which may require a co-payment. You can also arrange for home care through a private company, and your LHIN can help with that too. Your case manager will tell you which services they can provide based on your needs, and they’ll also arrange a home visit. After that, your LHNI will coordinate your application.
Community support services
Many communities have support services specifically for seniors and those who need support to live independently at home. Programs include:
- Adult day programs for socializing, fitness, and other activities
- Transportation services for those who can’t drive or use public transit
- Community hospice services such as counselling, support groups, yoga, art classes, and grief support
- Residential hospice services, which provide end-of-life care and palliative care in a comfortable, home-like environment, for those who can’t stay in their own homes anymore
- Exercise and falls prevention classes to help seniors stay active and healthy
When considering elder care in Canada, the most important thing is to do what’s best for you and your family based on your needs. If you’re unsure about which option is right for you, talk to your health-care professional.