Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Long Term Care in Ontario

Seniors or their families may place them in Long-Term Care (LTC) to ensure that psychological, physical and pharmacological needs of the care recipient is being met. Too often, seniors cannot manage to care for their personal needs, and sometimes may be too fragile, or psychologically, cognitively or emotionally incapacitated to manage on their own.

On the continuum of services: seniors may be cared for in their own homes, receive some home support from family or professional caregivers, Meals on Wheels, or other supports. Alternately, they may find that their needs are best met in a different setting, depending upon their ability to manage to get out of their home, and get to stores for particular goods and services. Also available are supportive living housing, and respite care for those who need a break.

There are levels of institutional care in Ontario. Actually, they are either for-profit, or non-profit. This makes a big difference in the type of care (formerly called nursing homes) that one might receive. Retirement homes are a different mandate and governance. In a retirement home the relationship is between the tenant and the institution.

In LTC a resident is governed by Ontario's LTC Act. The May, 2008 report, examines the state of senior health care in this province. LTC is not the panacea for aging and frail families. There are risks. Yet, with the dearth of home care providers, it can be difficult finding help for seniors in their homes. Studies abound of the stress caregivers and alternate decision makers must abide.

Profit and non-profit homes can be run by corporations, faith-based groups, municipalities, community and ethnic or cultural groups. This is an important factor is choosing care; it is crucial a resident's faith or cultural needs are met.

In a government subsidized health care residence, you might pay $50 - 70/per day, or $1600 - 2100 per month depending upon whether you are in a single or shared room. Once there, you will be asked if you want to participate in extra personal support, such as foot care, hairdressing, dental care, massage therapy and other treatment designed to make a resident more comfortable.

The only way to get into a LTC home is through the Community Care Acess Centre application process. This process is governed by Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN), there are 14 regional networks that provide regionally-based services. To find your LHIN, and CCAC department, you must find it on a map, or in the phone book.

What all this boils down to is that the independent senior can choose the living arrangement that suits their needs. Once s/he becomes incapacitated, choices may be made for them, based on complex continuing care requirements. It is in the bet interests of the senior to talk to familiy members about their preferences. Families can take them around to view various living arrangements.

If a diagnosis is made for a particular disability, i.e., dementia and/or Alzheimer's Disease, the wise family might choose a residence that provides for a range of services from simple (i.e., a retirement home) to complex continuing care offered in LTC.

We know that hospital beds are filled (some estimate 20%) with frailing and ailing seniors who cannot find a placement in a LTC home that will meet their needs. Whatever the percentage, we know that we are short beds, and the problem will become worse. It is best to get your name on a list and prepare for this eventuality.

No comments: