Why Retirement Homes are a Great Option for Seniors with Medical Needs


Article contributed by John Francis

Though it is heart breaking to move your seniors into retirement homes, it becomes a necessity if they cannot be adequately cared for in their own homes. At such times you have to look out for long term care homes to meet their complex medical needs as they cannot be hospitalized again and again.In all of Canada’s major cities and most small towns, nursing care homes or long-term care homes are found. Though the cost of this level of care, which involves round-the-clock medical surveillance or intense medical help, is considerable, it can be offset if the care recipient qualifies for government, insurance or other financial aid. Those with complex medical care needs that cannot be met in an assisted living facility or in their own homes may be moved into these residential care facilities commonly known as nursing homes or care homes. Residential care housing arrangements can be made for either short-term or long-term stays, depending on a senior’s medical needs. 

Short-Stay Services for Seniors

Short-stay services are available for three months or less, for recipients who require care as follows:

  • Convalescent care is available for patients with defined and stable care needs, requiring a supervised environment for reactivation or recuperation, prior to being discharged home, and following an acute episode of care.
  • Hospice care is available to patients who require support with comfort, dignity and quality of life in the final days or weeks of their lives.
  • Respite care is available for the recipients to provide them with a period of supported care to increase their independence, and also to provide their main caregiver a short break.

Long-Term Care Services for Seniors

24-hour professional supervision and care is provided in Long Term Service Care homes in a supportive and protective, environment for those with complex medical care needs that cannot be met in an assisted living facility or in their own homes. Long-term care services include the following:

  • Standard Accommodation
  • Development and maintenance of a complete care plan.
  • Clinical support services such as rehabilitation and social work services as specified in the care plan
  • Ongoing, planned physical, social and recreational activities such as exercise, music programs, crafts, games etc.
  • Meals, including therapeutic diets prescribed by a physician, and tube feeding
  • Meal replacements and nutrition supplements as prescribed in the care plan or by a physician
  • Routine laundry service for towels, bed linens, wash-clothes and all clothing that can be washed normally.
  • General hygiene supplies, including soap, shampoo, toilet tissue, and special products required for use with facility bathing equipment
  • Routine medical supplies
  • Incontinence management
  • Basic wheelchairs for personal exclusive use
  • Basic cleaning and maintenance of wheelchairs
  • Specialized services such as specialized dementia or palliative care as needed by the client that the long-term care home has been contracted to provide.

Long-term care homes provide supportive and compassionate care with the goal of preserving the care recipient’s dignity, comfort, and quality of life as their needs change over time, and offer ongoing support for family and friends. Long-term care services are for patients who can no longer be cared for in their own homes or in an assisted living residence because:

  • They continuously have severe behavioural problems.
  • They are cognitively impaired, ranging from moderate to severe.
  • They are physically dependent, with medical needs that require professional nursing care, and a planned program to retain or improve functional ability.
  • They have clinically complex conditions, multiple disabilities, complex medical conditions that require professional nursing care, medical monitoring or specialized skilled care.

For receiving short-stay services or Long-term care services or know of someone who might be in need of these services, the home and community care office of your health authority has to be contacted, or a health care professional can make a referral on your behalf. Veterans, eligible for home and community care services, should have their health authority contact Veterans Affairs Canada for an assessment of their eligibility for federal benefits, and also arrange their placement on their veterans’ priority access bed waitlist, in long term care facilities that have veterans’ priority access beds.

End-of-Life Care/Palliative Services

Supportive and compassionate care can be provided to people who are receiving long-term care services and are nearing the end of their lives. On admission to a long-term care home, the care recipient’s immediate needs are assessed, and a transitional care plan is developed. The care is reviewed in consultation with the care recipient’s family mostly within six weeks of admission as the recipient settles in the new environment. End-of-life and palliative care services provided to long-term care services recipients include the following:

  • Pain and symptom assessment and management.
  • Psychological care
  • Loss and grief support for close family members and family caregivers.
  • Specialized prescription medication, supplies and equipment are made accessible to the care recipients.

The patients receiving short-stay services are also entitled to these services.

Palliative Care Benefits

Some Canadian states offer palliative care benefits to recipients of any age who have reached the end stage of a terminal or life-threatening illness, and want to receive medically-appropriate palliative care. The intent of Palliative Care Benefits is to allow patients to receive palliative care at a hospice or home, rather than be admitted to a hospital. These benefits allow palliative patients to access the same drug benefits that they receive in hospital, and also to some medical equipment and supplies from their local health authority. Upon referral and assessment by the local health authority these benefits may comprise full coverage of prescribed medications, equipment and supplies.

Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning involves capable adults, who can think and talk about their beliefs and values, and write down their wishes or instructions regarding future health care treatment in the event they become incapable of speaking for themselves or making their own decisions. Advance care planning enables those who know them best to speak up for themselves and respect their wishes if asked to make a decision on their behalf.

Dementia Care

Alzheimer’s Care or dementia care, is another option available in long term care homes. The Alzheimer’s care offered in these homes is extremely specialized, as required. The homes that specialize in this type of dementia care offer expertise, understanding and specialized care facilities apart from a rich experience in memory care. 

The abovementioned points will help you take an informed decision regarding the medical facilities provided in Long Term Care homes, in the best of your loved one’s interests.

Article contributed by John Francis