What is the better option for me?
I AM a true advocate for being able to stay at home for as long as it is healthy and safe. Earlier in my career, I worked in home care and then I owned my own elder care company, helping many clients stay independent at home for as long as possible. Indeed, my company tagline was ‘Caring for You and Your Independence’ and it was something I felt very strongly about.
Home Care can take on many facets, but ultimately it is having programs or services at home to help you with whatever is needed. While you may not think of a maintenance person or a snow blowing service as ‘home care’ per se, these services are part of a greater team that is maybe enabling you to stay at home for longer.
As we age and things become more difficult, it makes sense to ask others to help us with tasks we find harder. Bigger projects and chores like snow blowing, gardening/lawn cutting, house cleaning and maintenance could be the first duties you’re happy for another to take on. Then, more personalised services like companionship, help with meals and groceries, laundry and bathing/hygiene support may also benefit you.
Home care companies offer quite an extensive list of services and there are many, many companies around to help. Some will do more than others and some will offer services that others don’t, like transportation to appointments, or registered nurses on their staff. However, it is important to understand that home care companies are not regulated which ultimately means anyone can start one up and operate one. If you’re thinking of getting in home care services, it’s super important to do your due diligence and interview prospective providers, research them, get references, check sites like BBB for registration and complaints, check their liability insurance and how they source their staff; what are their qualifications and training; how often do they renew their police records check for the vulnerable sector. This is just as important if you’re choosing not to go with a company and instead hire independently from an advert or off the internet. Recent references, background check and insurance is key.
PROs of Home Care
Remain in your home
Personalised, 1:1 attention
Build a bond with the same person
Help with more than HCCSS can do
CONs of Home Care
Having others in your home
Usually a 3hr minimum visit
Often times staff shortages
Can be expensive
Lonely outside of visits
Home and Community Care Support Services (formerly the LHIN and before that CCAC) can also offer personal support at home, at no charge. This can be especially beneficial if you need help with getting up in the morning (or getting ready for bed), help with dressing, personal hygiene and grooming, as well as bathing. Home and Community Care workers usually don’t do light housekeeping or meal making, nor laundry or other forms of home support that a private carer could and would. But, they can provide daily visits and there is no charge. To see if you qualify for help, you can call 310-2222 (no area code needed in Ontario), and speak to someone about an ‘in-home health assessment for personal support’.
Understanding why people have to move out of their homes is key to ensuring that if you want to stay at home, you’re supported to do so. Social isolation, poor nutrition, issues with medication management, needing help with personal care and inaccessibility in the home are some of the key reasons. A home care provider can help with alot of that and there are other companies that can help with making stairs or bathroom spaces more ergonomic to use for instance. A retirement home can also help with all of this.
For the most part, retirement homes are very easy to access and manoeuvre around in. Many are newer, purpose built residences and those that are older and repurposed have had extensive renovations done to make them safe spaces. Licensed homes also have 24/7 staffing and access to the nursing team in case you ever feel unwell or there is a health emergency at any time. Even the more independently geared homes can offer medication management services, taking the worry and stress of whether you’ve taken your pills or got your refills off your shoulders. Many still offer heavier care support components and/or have specialised memory care floors and programming tailored to those with cognitive impairment. Meals, housekeeping, utility costs and laundry services of linens and towels also come as a standard part of your rent, so a lot of the daily chores you’d have had at home will also be removed. And, retirement homes offer much more socialisation, the opportunity for new friends and to try new activities and hobbies, all under the same roof. There are often outings too.
PROs of a Retirement Home
Socialisation and friendships
24/7 staff on site
All meals, snacks and beverages incl
Accessible areas, elevators, open plan
CONs of a Retirement Home
Can be expensive, depending on need/choice
Smaller floorplans than you may be used to
The decision on whether to move to a retirement home is a deeply personal one. Even in a retirement residence, you’re still able and entitled to receive the personal care services from Home and Community Care, still free of charge, and you’re still able to welcome in any outside care services you wish, from private care companies or individuals.
If you’re wondering whether aging in place at home or moving to a residence is the better option, you can talk to us at Solva. We can share resources and referrals and chat through strategies that others have taken. There is never any charge to our service and we’re always here to help.