Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) currently organize publicly funded home care in Ontario. You must have OHIP coverage to be eligible for these services. Those who qualify are given access to non-medical services such as: dressing, bathing, and meal preparation. Additionally, important medical services are performed by registered nurses and include: wound care, occupational therapy, and pain management. A case manager will determine how much care you can receive. The maximum number of hours with a registered nurse is capped at 43 hours per week. Though please be aware that with budget constraints it is rare to qualify for the maximum. Some receive only a few hours a week, and others are deemed ineligible for any hours.

As mentioned in one of our previous posts "How to Pay for Home Care", efforts are being made to make the program more efficient. The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Eric Hoskins has declared that CCACs will be shut down, and their responsibilities transferred to the already in place Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). It is expected that this and other changes will provide more services to those who need them. But, a timeline for this transition has not been given, and considering that CCAC is still posting job opportunities on their careers website with anticipated durations of 1 year, you may find yourself including these improvements on your holiday wish list this year. 

With the publicly funded system currently in a state of flux, how are seniors able to remain in their homes as they age? The harsh reality is that the vast majority of those who receive CCAC care have informal caregivers (about 90% in 2012). Family members, friends, and even neighbours perform various duties to help the seniors in their lives. Most commonly this includes preparing meals, and transportation, but some even help with medical treatments. It is estimated that these caregivers provide 70-80 percent of total home care. In fact, one in ten spend at least 30 hours per week providing these activities. Many caregivers find that they are happier when caring for a loved one. It can be incredibly gratifying to help those who are important to you. But, there are real concerns according to a study released in the American Journal of Nursing. Stress, depression, and poor health can occur under these circumstances, especially when there are serious medical conditions such as dementia. 

Private Home Care Options

For those with the financial means, private home care is available to fill the gaps of the publicly funded system. Professionals give you the care you actually need, without being subject to an arbitrary cut off set by budget constraints. When going through an agency, this comes at a cost starting at $20 per hour. Costs increase when a more experienced caregiver is desired who needs to perform complex medical tasks. 

Using an agency is a choice, and instead you may opt to conduct your own search for a caregiver. This requires that you do all of the research yourself to find the right person. Always remember to conduct proper background checks, and vet the prospective caregiver’s credentials to ensure that they have all of the necessary certifications, licensing, and insurance. Online websites such as Kijiji and Craigslist will have postings you can browse, and you can make your own post indicating what you are looking for specifically in a candidate. You can find great, compassionate people this way, but unless you get lucky, expect to spend a lot of time finding the right match for your needs.

Alternatively, you can go through an agency that does all of the work for you, and is with you every step of the process. You should expect to pay a bit more when going this route, but you may find the hassle you are able to relieve worth it. There are many private home care agencies in Ontario, so it is important to do research, and ask questions to ensure you are fully satisfied with your choice. Please see our Ontario Senior Care Guide for a list of questions you can ask prospective agencies.

Part-Time and Temporary/Respite Care

While you have found that CCAC cannot cover all of your needs, you realize that full-time care is not necessary. Whether you want to supplement or replace this care, hiring a part-time caregiver can ensure everything is taken care of when you need it. CCAC care is often rigid and set to fixed timetables that cannot be changed. If CCAC determines that you are eligible for care in the morning, you will need to accept what their definition of morning is. It is not unusual to have a caregiver sent to your home early in the morning who does nothing while they wait for your loved one to wake up. Any time they spend in the home counts towards your weekly allotment. Fortunately, hiring private part-time care ensures you have the flexibility to choose exactly which hours you need, and there is no pressure to keep the same schedule every week.

You may not need consistent part-time services, but respite care is a great solution for temporary needs. For a few hours or even a few days, you can ensure your loved one is taken care of while you are on a date night, or on vacation. There are also times when temporary services may be required to care for an injury that needs special attention. 

Full-Time and Live-In Care

Serious medical conditions such as dementia may dictate that your loved one requires more attention than part-time care can offer. Full-time and live-in care will meet such needs. There is a crucial distinction between the two options. Live-in care provides 24-hour support with a caregiver who sleeps at the residence. Full-time care is offered in shifts (typically 8-12 hours), and it is your choice if you want to hire multiple caregivers so that continual care is delivered.

As with part-time and temporary care, all standard non-medical and medical services are available with these options. This includes, but is not limited to, medical supervision and reminders, assistance with bathing and toileting, grooming, housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation, and companionship. 

Selecting the right caregiver for your aging loved one can be tough. We help families like yours to the right type of care and find the best possible caregiver for your needs. Our highly qualified and compassionate care coordinators can help make the decision easier and answer any questions you have regarding your unique situation.