Can I get end-of-life care at home if I’m very sick and don’t want to die in a hospital?

Palliative care, or end-of-life care, can be provided in your home. Palliative care is special medical care for people living with a serious illness that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms of the illness.

OHIP might pay for some of the care but it will depend on:

  • how sick you are,
  • what kind of care you need, and
  • whether you have family members or friends who will help look after you at home.

First, contact your Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS) to find out what services it will provide. To find the HCCSS in your area, visit healthcareathome.ca and search by your postal code, or call 310-2222.

HCCSS may provide:

  • nursing and personal care
  • medical supplies and medication
  • pain management
  • tests
  • transportation to other health services
  • hospital beds and other hospital and sickroom equipment
  • home hospice services, including in-home visits and respite care by trained volunteers

The services you can get depend on:

  • how long your doctor says you're likely to live, and
  • what care and treatments you will need to manage pain and keep you as comfortable as reasonably possible.

In addition to the care available through HCCSS, you can find other resources through your doctors, nurses, friends and family. You can also contact community groups and organizations like Hospice Palliative Care Ontario and the Ontario Caregiver Organization.

If you need more care, you might have to pay for services from a private agency.

Masks and other PPE

Some of your visits by doctors and nurses may be done by phone or teleconference.

During the COVID-19 emergency, care providers that come to your home have to follow special rules to protect themselves and protect you.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has guidelines that all healthcare providers must follow when they come to your home to provide services during the COVID-19 emergency. And the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association also has rules for personal support workers to follow when they come to your home.

When the care provider arrives at your home, you will have to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and wear a mask. If you don't have one, they will give you one. Your care providers will have to wear a surgical or N95 mask and other personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, or you're ill from the virus, your care provider will need to also wear other PPE, such as face shields, goggles, and gowns.

Making arrangements

It will be very important for you to prepare for your death by making your funeral arrangements and your will. You should also name your substitute decision-makers (SDMs). SDMs are the people who can make personal care decisions for you when you're too sick to make your own decisions.

Think about making a power of attorney for personal care, to name one or more people to make decisions about personal care, and a power of attorney for property, to name one or more people to make decisions about your who can manage your property until your death.

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