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 featuresBroad 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?
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
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
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)