Elder Care 101 | My Mothers' Caregiver
An elder care roadmap & observations from the journey

Elder Care 101

Determining the Level of Care Needed and Finding Care:

Elder Care 101

What do we need and where do we find it? When our loved ones begin needing help, people are quick to assume the only option available is a nursing home. Sometimes long-term care is necessary but often it is not. Through the support and direction of Home and Community Care http://healthcareathome.ca/, you will find there are many options and levels of care. (If you have not already, please refer to the "Crisis - where to start?" page to learn about Home and Community Care - formerly called the CCAC.)

  • Another must see caregiving tool is The Care Guide www.thecareguide.com, This is an INCREDIBLE, comprehensive, easy to read- resource for finding services offering Community support, Home health care, Independent/supportive living, Retirement residences, Assisted living, Long term care residences, Alzheimer care and Hospice Care in Ontario, Canada. The Care Guide will also send you a paper version for your region (free of charge) and there is a toll free number where experienced eldercare specialists will answer all your questions at 1-800-311-CARE (2273). I cannot say enough about this amazing resource!

Once you have contacted Home and Community Care, it is important to determine what the level of care you need really is. Here are a list of caregiving support services that exist in Ontario.

Community Support Services

Many times your loved one just needs a little support to remain independently in their home. Services that are non-medical like meal preparation, house cleaning and maintenance, transportation, security checks and friendly visits are often enough to bridge the gap.

Home Health Care

For people who just need a little help to remain in their home, services like nursing care, specialized therapies (physiotherapy, speech-language therapy, social work, nutritional counseling or medical supplies and equipment) as well as non medical services like meal preparation, home making etc. exist. Many of these services may be eligible for funding through Home and Community Care.

  • Organizations like Victoria Order of Nurses & others can help you determine what care you need and offer Adult Day/Evening Programs and Respite Programs and more to assist caregivers. To contact the VON office in your area visit: http://www.von.ca/
  • Another invaluable resource for home health care is Community Care. With offices all over Canada, they offer services like Meals on Wheels, Diner's Clubs, Friendly Home Visiting,  Home Maintenance, Transportation and much much more. (This is not the same as the formerly named Community Care Access Centres). To find the location in your area visit: http://www.commcare.ca/
  • Wherever you live in Ontario, it is easy to find the in-home community-based health care services - for yourself or for a loved one. Call 310-CCAC (310-2222)

Finding a Doctor

If you do not have a doctor, this will definitely affect your ability to remain healthy while living at home. Find out about: Health Care Connect.

Health Care Connect is designed to help you find a family health care provider. Here is information to help you understand how the program works. You will also find information and resources to help you access additional health care services in your community.

Getting started

Health Care Connect (the program) helps people without a family health care provider find one. You may want to consider registering for the program if:

  • You are actively looking for a regular provider for ongoing family health care needs;
  • You have a valid OHIP card (if you do not, you may contact Service Ontario INFO line at the number, below, where someone can assist you with this) and
  • You are not currently enrolled with a family health care provider according to Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care records (i.e. you have not signed a Ministry enrolment and consent form)

More information about how the program works can be found in this brochure. For additional questions, please call Service Ontario INFO line at the number below.

To register with the program, simply call 1-800-445-1822. You will need a pen, some paper and your OHIP card when you call Health Care Connect You can also register for Health Care Connect online by entering your information at www.ontario.ca/healthcareconnect.

Independent/Supportive Living

Depending on a person's ability to pay and where they live, a good half step towards accepting help and keeping independence is Independent/Supportive Living. These apartment style accommodations offer meals, home making, around the clock staff and a host of activities.

Retirement Residences

Retirement Residences also offer varying levels of care in a residential setting when people can no longer manage independently. This is often a good choice for a couple when one spouse needs more assistance than the other. These homes typically offer meals, social/recreational activities, 24-hour staff, laundry services and housekeeping. They will usually supervise or administer medication and offer some personal care and assistance. Retirement Homes however, are not subsidized and services and costs vary.

Assisted Living

Often assisted living is care that is offered in a designated section of a retirement residence. This refers to hands-on personal nursing care services, bathing and dressing. These services are often subsidized.

Long-Term Care

Long-Term Care Homes (or Nursing Homes) are residences for people who need 24-nursing care. Community Access Care Centres are now responsible for ALL admissions to long-term care facilities in Ontario. While the resident pays for their accommodation, the government pays for care and programs. There are many myths alive about how much nursing homes cost. On more than one occasion I've been told horror stories about how nursing homes take everything in your bank account to let you live there. This is not the case. The CCAC website states:


"Although the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care pays for the care you receive, you are responsible for accommodation costs, which are standard across Ontario. Rates are typically reviewed annually by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. 

Alzheimer Care: If you do not have enough annual income to pay for the basic room, the government can help you through a subsidy that will bring the cost down to a level you can afford. The subsidy is not available to people requesting semi-private or private rooms. Your Home and Community Care Case Manager can help you apply for the subsidy. If deemed to be eligible for placement in a long-term care home, no one will be refused because of an inability to pay." Note that all of the above care services are often only needed for a respite/short-term or for a convalescent care period of recovery.

The level of care your loved one requires will be assessed by your Home and Community Care Case Manager/ Care Coordinator. If required, some long term care facilities offer specialized care and supportive secure sections or wings in their homes for residents who need this extra support especially when there is a risk of escaping. There are also community based supports and day programs for people who need Alzheimer care.

Your local Alzheimer's Society is also a great resource in informing and supporting individuals with Alzheimer's and Dementia. Find your local branch at: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/on or by calling: Tel: 416-967-5900/Toll-free:  1-800-879-4226 (valid only in Canada). Email: staff@alzheimeront.org

  • For detailed information about all the Supportive Housing, Retirement Homes and Long-term Care Homes in Ontario visit: https://www.seniorszen.com/care/province/ontario
  • or phone the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care at:Call the ministry INFOline at 1-866-532-3161
    (Toll-free in Ontario only)
    TTY 1-800-387-5559
    Hours of operation : 8:30am - 5:00pm

Hospice Care

Hospice care can be offered in the home or a facility. Care may include pain or symptom control, emotional, spiritual and physical support. For more information visit: http://www.hospice.on.ca/ or phone: 1-800-349-3111.

Some of this information was acquired through Community Care Access Centre and through The Care Guide www.thecareguide.com.


For information on helping your parents manage their money, plan for their retirement, discover the different pension plans available and to determine if your parents are getting all the money they're eligible for.

Read the following Canadian Living articles by Anne Bokma and Bart Mindszenthy at: http://www.canadianliving.com/life/money/money_management_for_your_parents.php

Power of Attorney

If your loved one is showing signs or the possibility of not being able to make proper decisions for themselves, it is a good idea for them to assign Power of Attorney Rights to someone. This is a terribly important decision to make and this right must be only given to someone who is completely trustworthy! Unfortunately, many trusting seniors have been swindled by family members, who stole their relative's savings and their trust.

Power of Attorney can be assigned over a person's property and also for their personal care, lest they become incapacitated and can't make decisions for themselves. For safety measures, more than one person can be assigned this role. In our family one of us was assigned power of attorney over my mother's personal care (health) and two other's over her property ( finances). Fortunately, this decision was made by my mother while she was still well enough to make these choices and understand they needed to be made. Had we not done this ahead of time it would have made it much harder to take care of my mother when crisis hit. To find out more contact a lawyer in your area. Also visit: https://settlement.org/ontario/legal-services/lawyers-and-other-legal-help/find-a-lawyer/how-do-i-find-a-lawyer/#lrs

Find More information, resources and links on the pages: Crisis- where to start?,
Health Care Hurdles, Local Supports and Resources.