Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: I have been caring for my mother in my home for several years. I need a break. Is there somewhere that my mother can go and be cared for so that I can get some time for myself?
One option is to schedule a short-term admission or respite stay for your mother in a residential care facility or other facility that provides respite care. This type of respite can range from overnight to a week or more. Other options for respite include Adult Day programs, which offer opportunities for seniors to socialize, participate in activities and share a hot lunch. You can also arrange for a Home Support Worker to come to your home overnight to look after your mother so you can catch up on rest or during the day for a few hours so that you can spend some time on your own. The first step in accessing any of these services is to call your mother’s Case Manager. All respite is arranged through the Case Manager. Another option is to hire someone privately through a Home Support agency to come and stay with her while you go on vacation or even just go out for the evening. Finally, you could arrange for a friend, neighbour or volunteer to come over for a few hours or a few days as well.
Finding respite can also be something as simple as going out for coffee with friends, reading a book or watching a movie or going for a walk, doing something that you enjoy and nurtures you and which allows you to feel more rested and experience some time away from caregiving duties.
Q2: Since my mom passed away last year, my dad does not want to live on his own anymore. His health is rapidly deteriorating. What steps do we need to take to move Dad into a care facility?
I would encourage you to begin by contacting the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s (VIHA) Home & Community Care line at (250) 388-2273 or toll free at 1-888-533-2273. VIHA is responsible for geriatric assessments and facility placements. A Case Manager will visit your dad, perform a needs assessment as well as take a look at his financial situation to determine if he is eligible for a subsidy.
Depending on the level of care he needs, there are several housing options in the Victoria area, ranging from facilities that provide assisted living to complex care. Visit the www.viha.ca/housing/facility_access.htm for more information.
Facility placement is done according to “Need-Based-Access”. This means that clients with the highest need and urgency for 24-hour residential care have priority access into the first available, appropriate bed. The other option is a private facility where all costs would be paid for by your dad.
I’ve added a link below to Senior Living Magazine’s Housing Guide for Seniors which lists all of the available care facilities, private and VIHA affiliated, on Vancouver Island. (www.seniorlivingmag.com/). If you would like a hard copy we have them in our office.
Q3: My sister’s arthritis is getting quite serious, and she’s finding it harder to get out and do her shopping, drive to appointments, etc. What kinds of services are out there to help her with her day-to-day activities?
There are many services in the community to assist people living at home with tasks of daily living and helps alleviate some of the demands placed on family caregivers. These services include:
Volunteer organizations which provide home visitors, walking companions, and volunteers to assist with odd jobs, gardening, reading, letter writing, and driving to appointments or shopping.
Some seniors’ centers and residential facilities provide meals to seniors on a drop-in basis. Meals on Wheels and many catering companies will deliver meals to your home.
Grocery delivery services
Volunteer-based services exist to assist seniors with grocery shopping. People can place grocery orders by phone or on-line.
House cleaning services
Some house cleaning companies will provide additional services, including doing laundry, moving furniture, taking out garbage and doing garden work.
There are a number of transportation services and benefits for seniors. BC Transit and BC Ferries offer discount fairs for seniors. BC Transit also offers Taxi Saver coupons and HandiDart.
Medical alert systems are 24-hours-a-day/seven-days-a-week monitoring services for frail elders and people with disabilities.
Many of these services are listed under Local Resources on this website. In the CRD, Seniors Serving Seniors produces a free Seniors’ Services Directory which is a comprehensive listing of community services available for seniors. (250-382-4331), www.seniorsservingseniors.bc.ca.
Q4: My father-in-law has recently moved to Victoria. He was diagnosed with colon cancer last year and had surgery in Ontario before he moved out here to be closer to us. Right now he is living on his own, but really needs to have 24-hour care. What do we do?
The first thing to consider is how long your father-in-law has been living in BC. To be eligible for Home and Community Care through the Vancouver Island Health Authority, clients must: be a resident of BC for at least 3 months; be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant; and require care at home. There are additional eligibility requirements for some of the services VIHA provides. If he does not meet these criteria then he may have to purchase his care privately until he has lived here the required waiting period. The names of several private home support agencies are listed on this website under Local Resources.
To be eligible for subsidized facility placement a person needs to be a BC Resident for 12 months. In some cases however, the residency requirement is only 3 months and applies to people who are determined to be functioning at the Extended Care level.
Either way, I would encourage you to call the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s (VIHA) General Inquiries Line at 388-2273. They arrange both home and facility care. Visit www.viha.ca/hcc/ for more information.
Q5: My husband has had a stroke and is partially paralyzed. My children are all too busy to help me take care of him. What options do I have?
You can arrange for home support to come in and help you with the care of your husband. Contact the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), Home and Community Care at (250) 388-2273 to enquire about whether he is eligible for subsidized home support. A Case Manager will visit your home and complete a needs assessment and create a care plan for him. This assessment will include a financial assessment to determine the amount, if any, of subsidized help you are eligible for. Another option is to purchase private home support in which you and your husband will pay all the costs. The names of several private home support agencies are listed on this website under Local Resources.
Q6: My brother lives in another town, but now needs long-term care due to permanent injuries from a car accident. What can I do to help? Should I move him closer to me and my family?
Caring for someone long-distance can be as stressful, or sometimes even more stressful, than being in the same location. Although you’re initial reaction may be to move your family member closer to you, consider first whether this might be more disruptive and stressful for everyone involved. Are you prepared to have them live with you? Or are you prepared to be their only social contact once they have been moved away from what is familiar to them?
There are some articles under Archived Articles on this website that offer some tips for long-distance caregivers and caregiving from a distance.
Q7: I am feeling really exhausted and depressed. Sometimes I feel angry and cheated. Are there other people out there who feel the same way, and how can I talk to them?
Yes, there are definitely other family caregivers who feel the same way as you. One place you can talk with people who are in a similar situation as you is to attend one of our support groups at the Family Caregivers Network. These support groups are available in James Bay, Sidney and on Salt Spring Island. They are offered both during the day and evening on a drop-in basis and are facilitated by trained volunteer facilitators. Support groups are a great place to share your caregiving experience, express your feelings, vent and receive support and helpful tips from other family caregivers. More details on FCNS support groups.
Many of the disease-specific agencies, such as the Alzheimer’s Resource Centre and MS Society, also offer support groups for family members and caregivers of individuals with those particular disorders. More details on Disease-specific caregiver resources.
The Caregivers Association of BC facilitates an on-line support group. Visit www.caregiverbc.ca for more details.
Q8: My mom and dad are still living in their own house. I am really concerned with their safety, but they won’t let me arrange to have someone come in and help them. What can I do?
It is important to recognize that your parents are ultimately responsible for their own choices. As long as they are mentally and emotionally capable of making their own decisions, they should be encouraged to do so.
Your parents may be experiencing a wide range of emotions including a sense of losing control over their lives and in an attempt to try to maintain control they may resist your attempts to care for them. Be sensitive to your parent’s feelings of helplessness and their changes in health and abilities. Give them your support and listen and respect their views. In the end, you may need to let go – as long as your parents are capable of making their own decisions, it is important to let them do so.
Here are a couple articles that you might find helpful:
When the Person you are Caring for Resists Help and,
They Need Help, but Will Not Accept it. What can you do? in our May 2007 issue of the Network News.