Making the decision to move a spouse or aging parent into long term care is one of the most difficult decisions families have to make.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s helpful to clarify what is meant by “long term care”. Trust me, there are so many different ways to describe this form of housing, it can cause dizziness!
Technically, the current terminology is complex care; however, other more common terms used are long term care, residential care, and nursing home. What it really means – a facility that provides 24-hour skilled nursing care and supervision for people who are no longer able to care for themselves. Staff members administer medications and assist residents with daily activities such as eating, bathing and dressing. Only 1-2% of Canadians live in complex care facilities with an average age being 86 years old.
Eligibility for a government subsidized complex care facility is evaluated and determined by a case manager from a local health authority. Factors considered include the person’s health status, the family caregiver’s ability to provide the necessary care and support in the home and if the community resources currently being used are appropriate, safe and sustainable. Those assessed as having the greatest and urgent needs are given priority for admission to the first available and appropriate bed. Cost is a daily rate based on 80% of a person’s income. There are also private facilities where no subsidies are available.
Once a decision is made, it can feel like having to “wait it out”. Some families feel this part of the transition is very difficult with the uncertainty of when a bed will be available and feeling they need to be prepared for a move at any time. Some families and the person being cared for experience increased anxiety and stress during this period.
Building a circle of support people is really important. Choose a team of people to support you, emotionally and physically as well as supports who have very practical skills including having cared for someone in complex care, legal and financial experience, excellent listener, etc.
If you are a joiner, think about a Caregiver’s Support group. There are several groups as well as some for specific diseases such as stroke, Parkinson’s and dementia. You can start by clicking here for a list of support groups on the Family Caregivers of BC website
We know it is easier said than done; however, caring for yourself as a caregiver is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family member. Your role as a caregiver doesn’t end when the person you are caring for moves into complex care.
Here is a list of additional resources that may be helpful:
- It’s Time for Facility Placement: What happens now and how do I cope with the process and my changing role?, Feb 2015 – https://www.familycaregiversbc.ca/education/tele-workshop-podcasts/under the header – Navigating the Health Care System
- Transition from Home to Residential Care: from the Family Caregivers’ Perspective, Feb 2013 –https://www.familycaregiversbc.ca/education/tele-workshop-podcasts/under the header – Emotional Support
- Government of BC – Long Term Residential Care –http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/accessing-health-care/home-community-care/care-options-and-cost/long-term-residential-care
- An Overview of Seniors Care in BC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/an-overview-of-seniors-care-in-b-c-1.1237319
- Transitioning a Loved One to Residential Care, Jan. 2016. Comox Valley Record –http://www.keystoneeldercare.com/articles/articles/transitioning-to-long-term-care-part-2.html
- Help in Selecting a Residential Care Facility – Feb. 2013. Ministry of Health of BC. Downloadable athttp://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2013/planning-for-your-care-needs.pdf
- Long Term Care Home Checklist. Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities. Downloadable at http://www.concernedfriends.ca/work-we-do/checklist
Author: Wendy Johnstone, M.A. Gerontology