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Home health-care services - such as personal grooming, homemaking, nursing or physiotherapy - may come from government-funded providers or private for-profit or not-for-profit firms. Community support services - such as friendly visiting or home meals - may come from charitable and volunteer organizations. These networks of services aim to let seniors remain in their own homes and communities, living as independently as possible.

Distinguishing features

  • Broad range of services, which may include professional health care, personal support services, homemaking assistance and other social supports
  • No single provider; an assortment of many organizations, some working together to offer integrated services
  • Services and supports are delivered to seniors' homes; other services, such as transportation or adult daycare programs, help seniors stay connected to their communities


  • What do they cost?
  • Fees vary widely, depending on the service
  • The province funds many home health-care services, but a Community Care Access Centre will determine who qualifies and what level of support he or she is entitled to receive
  • Fee for services offered by both non-profit and for-profit providers
  • A private agency offering personal care attendants to help with tasks like bathing may charge $17 to $25 an hour; a subsidized non-profit provider may charge less
  • Volunteers provide some services, such as friendly visiting


  • Who is eligible?
  • Government-funded support services generally cover frail seniors, individuals with disabilities, people with acute post-hospital needs, people who are chronically ill or recovering from a serious illness and the caregivers of those in these circumstances
  • Anyone can pay for more services or additional care, over and above what is government-funded


  • How are they regulated?
  • No single regulator
  • Medical services fall under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or professional self-regulating bodies
  • Other services may be covered by the Ontario Ministry of Labour or municipal bylaws


  • Points to consider
  • Am I having difficulty coping with the tasks of daily living?
  • Am I feeling isolated at home?
  • Is caring for my personal needs taking up more and more of my day?
  • Am I becoming a recluse because it is such a struggle for me to get out of the house?
  • Have shopping, banking and other errands become insurmountable?
  • Are housekeeping and home maintenance deteriorating?
  • Am I, as a family caregiver, feeling overburdened?
  • Am I, or my loved one, ending up in a hospital emergency room over chronic health issues that are not being addressed daily?


  • Absolute Musts
  • Don't be afraid or too proud to ask for help
  • Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) can help you navigate the array of services
  • Write down your needs and discuss the list with a relative or close friend
  • As a caregiver, don't feel you need to do it all alone
  • Look for telltale signs that a relative is having difficulty coping; for example, stale food left lying around, an increasingly unkempt appearance, few groceries in the cupboards
  • Do your research. Know your options and choices by using available resources - from agencies and organizations to print and web material


  • Some natural concerns
  • Will I be comfortable with a stranger coming into my home?
  • Will I have a say in how services are delivered to me in my home?
  • What if I don't qualify for government funding?
  • Will the standard of health care I receive in my home be as high as if I were in another setting?
  • As a friend or relative, I feel guilty because I can't look after all the needs of my loved one on my own


  • Positives of home health care
  • Providers are skilled, compassionate professionals - an unfamiliar face can quickly become a trusted caregiver
  • Home care workers, like attendants, generally follow clients' directions in helping them carry out daily activities
  • You can purchase services apart from or in addition to those funded by government
  • Family caregivers, who can't reasonably be expected to do it all alone, gain support
  • Clients receive a high standard of health care at home to help them cope with even complex health issues


  • Quick facts
  • First Canadian life lease communities were in Saskatchewan and Manitoba
  • About 70 projects in Ontario, with another 20 to 25 currently under development; about 200 altogether across Canada
  • 80 per cent of life lease communities in Ontario sponsored by non-profit or charitable groups; another 10 per cent are joint ventures between charitable groups and private developers
  • Owner/occupant residents purchasing life lease units sponsored by non-profit or charitable organizations in Ontario are exempt from land transfer taxes, saving an average buyer about 1.5 per cent of the purchase price of their unit
  • Many developments linked or affiliated with retirement or long-term care communities
  • Some market value life lease communities in Ontario have seen a capital appreciation as high as 20 per cent over a few years


  • Trends
  • Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINs) will better link services, making access easier for consumers
  • Extending access to home health-care services, particularly on an around-the-clock basis
  • More complex health issues are increasingly being supported within the home
  • The province is reviewing its procedures for contracting out home health-care services


  • How to Assess home health-care services
  • Membership-based organizations representing service providers - for example, Ontario Home Care Association - offer useful information on their websites
  • Is the service being delivered professionally and respectfully?
  • Is the care and service consistent?
  • Are caregivers, attendants or other professionals punctual?
  • Are my likes and dislikes being respected?
  • Are familiar faces arriving at my door or is the staff always changing?
  • Has my life become easier because of the support services I am receiving?
  • Do the support services make me feel more confident and comfortable to remain in my own home?
  • As a family caregiver, do I feel comfortable leaving my loved one in the hands of the service provider?
  • Compiled with the assistance of Lori Payne, executive assistant, Ontario Community Support Association; Ontario Home Care Association's website; Carefirst Seniors & Community Services Association; George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care speeches; Statistics Canada website; Eldercare Survival Guide (www.howtocare.com)




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