By David Houle-Tymeczko September 1, 2021
In the later years of life, some people start needing more help in their day-to-day lives. This assistance occurs on a spectrum that ranges from informal help to long-term care.
Let’s look at how you can access long-term care and what situations would necessitate it.
But first, I’ll briefly describe the other types of care leading up to long-term to show the differences.
The informal level of care is made up of chores done for you by family or friends. It can be something like a grandchild shoveling your driveway or mowing your lawn.
Similarly at this level of care are services provided by businesses. A local example is the free lawn care provided by Elliot Lake Retirement Living for retirees living in townhouses that this not-for-profit rents out in this Northern Ontario retirement community.
Home care is the next level and consists of health care or supportive care (dressing, bathing, companionship, etc.) provided by a professional in a patient’s home. Patients tend to have health conditions that make it difficult to take care of themselves while being able to stay at home.
Assisted living is closer to long-term care than the others. With assisted living, you live at a facility like Huron Lodge, again to use an example local to the retirement community of Elliot Lake.
At Huron Lodge, staff can help you with things like bathing, dressing, and moving from a bed to a wheelchair. Some medical care may be provided at certain assisted living facilities, but the main idea is to give you enough help to keep you independent for as long as possible.
Finally, there is long-term care, which is similar to assisted living but provides 24-hour medical supervision and care.
Long-term care is usually necessary due to an ongoing health condition or disability. Sometimes, the need for this level of assistance suddenly arises, like after a heart attack or stroke. Usually, however, it generally increases gradually with age as people become frailer (or an illness or disability worsens).
According to the Ontario government’s website, the eligibility requirements for accessing long-term care in Ontario are as follows:
- Must be 18 or older
- You have an Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) card
- You have care needs including:
- 24-hour nursing care and personal care
- Frequent assistance with activities of daily living
- On-site supervision or monitoring to ensure your safety or well-being
- You have care needs that cannot be safely met in the community by publicly-funded community-based services and other care-giving support
- You have care needs which can be met by long-term care.
As for the cost of long-term care in Ontario, the personal and nursing care are completely covered by the Ontario government. However, you would need to pay for the accommodations like room and board.
The accommodation costs for long-term care are set by the Ministry of Long-Term Care. Therefore, a long-term care home in Toronto, for instance, cannot be more expensive than one in the Algoma region.
If you moved to a more affordable community far from a big, expensive city like Toronto but have family still living there, you can apply for a long-term home near to or in that city without worrying about having higher costs to pay.
The current maximum daily rates (same as 2019 because of COVID-19 outbreak) are $62.18 for long-stay basic, $74.96 for long-stay semi-private, $88.82 for long-stay private, and $40.24 for short-stay.
The costs of some semi-private or private homes can be less depending on the age and structure of the home.
More specific information can be found on the Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS) website.
If you don’t have enough income to pay for the basic room, you may be eligible for a subsidy through the Long-Term Care Home Rate Reduction Program. If you qualify, you can receive up to $1,891.31 a month (the monthly cost of a basic room).
Eligibility depends on your income and you must already receive all of these benefits that you qualify for:
- Old Age Security pension (if you’re age 65 or older)
- Ontario Disability Support Program (if you’re ineligible for Old Age Security)
- Guaranteed Income Supplement (if you’re age 65 or older)
- Guaranteed Annual Income System Benefit.
In order to apply for long-term care, you need to call your local HCCSS organization at 310-2222 (no area code required). Their staff will determine your eligibility, tell you about homes in your area, tell you about costs, and help you apply.
The government suggests investigating multiple homes and asking questions when you do so. The Ministry of Long-Term Care has reports on each home, so you can evaluate the ones near your preferred area.
According to the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA), there are 626 homes licensed and approved to operate in Ontario (as of 2020), so take your pick.
You can apply to a maximum of 5 homes and your application will be handled by the HCCSS. When a bed becomes available, you’ll have 24 hours to accept or reject the offer.
If you accept, you’ll have 5 days to move in. If you reject the offer, your application to all chosen homes will be cancelled and you’ll have to wait 12 weeks to reapply.
To use an Elliot Lake example, St. Joseph’s Manor offers long-term care. All of the rooms are private or semi-private and other features include a chapel, common television room, physiotherapy, activity rooms, and shower/bathing rooms that can handle any mobility concerns.
There are no visiting hour restrictions at St. Joseph’s Manor, although notice must be given if visits extend past 8:30pm. They offer 24-hour nursing and have many additional health services listed on their website.
For admission to St. Joseph’s Manor, call 705-949-1650 to speak with the Algoma Community Care Access Centre.
Choosing a long-term care home is an extremely important decision, and one that should be made with as much information as possible. So if you’re looking to access long-term care, be sure to research your options.