The home care system can be confusing. If you want to stay in your home, many resources, supports, and options are available. Here is a brief breakdown to help you navigate the home care system.
Sometimes known as “Home Care,” Community Care provides support to people of all ages who require care in their home or community. Home and Community Care Support Services ((formerly called LHIN Home and Community Care or Community Care Access Centre (CCAC)) are responsible for deciding the level of care you need, for how long and help facilitate your care.
How to Access
Community Care often requires an assessment by a Care Coordinator through Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS) to determine what services you quality for. A referral can be by your physician, family member, another agency or even yourself. Depending on your situation and health care needs, an assessment may be done over the phone or in person. Services you may qualify for based on the assessment include: nursing, PSW, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, speech-language pathology, dieticians. The Care Coordinator will then send a referral for the services you are eligible for to a contracted agency, which will accept you as a client and contact you to arrange for that care.
Community Support Services (like Acclaim Health) are provided by non-profit organizations funded at least in part by Ontario Health (formerly LHIN – Local Health Integration Network) and are governed by an MSAA (multi-sectoral accountability agreement). These services include Adult Day programs, Meals on Wheels, Volunteer Visiting, Hospice, Transportation and many more. Some programs require a referral through Home and Community Care Support Services, and others can be referred by anyone. There are MANY different programs offered by a number of different organizations; some are at no cost, but not all.
There are a number of different services offered by different agencies. This can mean if there is a change in your/your loved ones’ health (such as hospitalization), you may have to call several organizations to update them. It is a good idea to keep a list of all agencies/organizations involved in your care in one central place. If you are a long-service client (receiving ongoing services as opposed to short-term nursing), you should be re-assessed by your Care Coordinator yearly or if there is a significant change in health. If you feel you or your loved one needs a re-assessment, contact your Care Coordinator, outline your reasons, and request a re-assessment.
Retirement homes are a form of housing where residents pay for accommodation and care services. They do not receive government funding, and residents pay the full cost of accommodation and any care services they purchase. There are no specific criteria to be eligible to live in a retirement home. Older adults who wish to live in a retirement home enter into a tenancy relationship with the home and decide which care services to purchase. You can apply directly to the homes and do not have to go through the Home and Community Care Support Services like you would for community care or Long Term Care.
Some retirement homes may have a doctor, nurse or pharmacist on-site to provide health services. Residents can receive care within the retirement home from external providers, including publicly-funded health services. Services a retirement home can offer you include: meals, assistance with bathing, personal hygiene, dressing, dementia care, administering medication, incontinence care.
Long Term Care Homes
Long Term Care Homes are regulated through the Long-Term Care Homes Act. The government pays a portion of the cost, and the resident will pay the other part. A Care Coordinator will complete an assessment and determine if you are eligible for Long Term Care based on a regulated criterion. Once it is determined you are eligible for Long Term Care, you will be allowed to choose up to five homes, and the Care Coordinator will coordinate your application to those homes. Waitlists for long term care homes can vary based on the number of homes you choose, what priority category you have been put in as well as which specific homes you choose.
There is currently a shortage of space in most Long Term Care homes that will require you to get on a waitlist (wait time example: In Burlington, there are 10 long term care homes and 1,279 beds, and in August 2020, there were 2,500 people on the waitlist with the average of 1-3 beds becoming available per home per month). Applications for Long term care homes must be made through a Home and Community Support Services Care Coordinator.