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The Heart N Home Team

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Research care options, nursing homes and retirement residences

Finding a proper retirement home or nursing home for an elderly family member often means supplementing what you can do with what your community can offer. There is no other way to learn about retirement home options than to head out on the information highway and do your own research. The time spent gaining a good understanding of seniors' care, nursing home and retirement home choices means steering a better course through various stages.

For example: initially, you might consider simple supports. A few hours a week of personal care or a hot, nutritious meal twice a week through the Meals on Wheels program may be all that are required.

Be aware of other kinds of senior care available

If your senior parent requires greater assistance - maybe for bathing or personal care - you need to be aware of special services that may be available to you. For example, in the province of Ontario, the local Community Care Access Centre can help arrange for a personal support worker. Should more extensive care be required on an ongoing basis, a CCAC case manager may also arrange for the services of a nurse or other licensed caregiver to administer medication, change dressings or provide physiotherapy. There is also help for seniors who are coping with loneliness, depression, anxiety and such.

No matter where you live, you will learn that caregivers need to pay attention to their own wellbeing. Respite care programs, such as adult day programs, benefit and provide quality time for both the loved one and the caregiver.

Ontario residents can learn more about senior care options in Ontario, here.

Be mindful of special circumstances
Your research may also identify potential potholes or special circumstances. For instance, seniors may need to look to private or company insurance packages to supplement services provided through our health-care system or they may qualify for health-care benefits under the Veterans Health Care Regulations.

Unfortunately, in this age of stress and busyness, children and their aging parents all too often find themselves in a crisis situation where multiple solutions are required and decisions must be made immediately. For many, it is like rocketing down a steep road, negotiating twists and turns on the fly - in the dark.

By making time now to plan for the future by identifying health-care sources and retirement options for your aging parents, you will have an essential and powerful advantage - a road map for your family, through the challenging terrain of retirement and nursing care.

source: Catherine Dunphy, Comfort Life 2008 - 2009

Tips on Choosing a Retirement Residence
When shopping for a retirement residence consider visiting several and go prepared with a list of questions. Keeping notes and gaining a strong "feel" for each place will help you choose the residence best suited to your personal needs and interests.

Retirement and residential care homes vary in location, size, price, amenities, programs and services. The mix of staff and residents also contributes greatly to the "personality" of each place. That's why it's important to look beyond the physical structure and spend the necessary time to ask questions, talk with people and generally "sample the product".

We suggest several ideas, which should help you make the right personal choice:

  • While touring a care home, talk to the residents about their perceptions of the place

  • Plan to stay or return another day for a complimentary lunch or dinner

  • Don't limit your tour to suite and common areas. Ask to see the kitchen

  • If you would really like to "kick the tires", enquire about a trial visit or an overnight stay

  • Ask for resident family references you can contact for their opinions

  • Beyond the standard tour, check stairwells and other less traveled areas to see how well they're cleaned and maintained

  • Ask for copies of any paperwork required for admission along with samples of menus, activity calendars and newsletters

Use the following checklist to identify the types of services and amenities available:
Services Available
  • Meals
  • Tray Service to Suites
  • Daily Housekeeping
  • Weekly Housekeeping
  • Personal Laundry
  • Recreation Program
  • Medication Supervision
  • Vitals Monitoring
  • Visiting Physician
  • Physician on Call
  • Dementia Unit
  • Visiting Dental Service
  • Visiting Lab Service
  • Visiting Podiatrist
  • Visiting Physiotherapist
  • Pharmacy Services
  • Assisted Living Services
  • Respite/Convalescent Care
  • RN/RPN on staff
  • Private Duty Nursing
  • Transportation
Building Amenities
  • Central Dining Room
  • Library
  • Resident Storage
  • Air Conditioned Common Areas
  • Private Dining Rm/Area
  • Chapel
  • Tuck Shop
  • Fire and/or Smoke Alarms
  • Lounges
  • Horticulture Area
  • Beauty Salon
  • Parking
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Sprinkler System
  • Swimming Pool
Suite Amenities
  • Private Bath
  • Heating: Individually Controlled
  • Air Condition: Individually Controlled
  • Call Bell System
  • Fire and/or Smoke Alarms
  • Kitchenette
  • Sprinkler in each suite
Ask the following questions?
Community Services:
  • How close is the nearest hospital, medical clinic, dentist office?
  • Are there churches, parks, shops and seniors' centres nearby?
  • How accessible is public transportation?
  • Is there an accessable transit service?
Financial Matters:
  • What is the daily/monthly rate?
  • Are there charges for additional services you may want or need?
  • Is phone or cable service part of your package?
  • Is there a resident petty cash account with separate accounting?
  • What type of notice period is required should you need, or decide to move?
  • How often are rates for accommodation and/or services increased?
  • What is the average annual rate of increase over the last few years?
Admission Policies:
  • Are wheelchairs and walkers accepted?
  • What about scooters?
  • Are any forms of oxygen therapy allowed?
  • Is a health assessment required?
  • What happens if your health deteriorates?
ORCA Membership:
  • Is the residence a member in good standing with the Ontario Residential Care Association?
  • Has the residence undergone and successfully met the ORCA Standards Evaluation Guidelines?
  • Is there a Standards Award Certificate and Members Certificate displayed?
  • And, are the dates on both certificates current?
To qualify for membership in the Ontario Residential Care Association (ORCA), a care home must undergo and meet a comprehensive standards evaluation.

Check for a dated ORCA membership and standards certificate. You can verify current membership by calling us, toll-free, 1-800-361-7254.


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