How can I get homecare services if I do not want to move into a long-term care home?
The Ontario government pays for some homecare services for people who qualify. Examples of homecare services include:
- health care: nurses and therapists who treat injuries like wounds or help with your recovery after an operation or a stroke
- personal care: personal support workers (PSWs) who help with personal care like bathing, hair, nail and skin care
- homemaking: PSWs who help you with household activities like light house cleaning and laundry, if you qualify for personal care services
To qualify for free personal care services in your home, you must need help with some activities of daily living. Activities of daily living are things like getting out of bed, bathing and dressing, using the toilet, eating a nutritious diet, or walking.
You may qualify for a weekly visit or several visits a week. The government sets limits on how many hours of care you can have each month.
You may also qualify for other care, like health care, for shorter time periods. This might include changing bandages, physiotherapy after surgery, or helping you take medications.
To find out if you qualify for services, call your Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS). They will ask you for your health card number. Someone else, like a family member, can also make the call for you.
To find the HCCSS in your area, visit healthcareathome.ca and search by your postal code. You can also call 310-2222. There is no area code.
An HCCSS Care Coordinator will ask you about:
- your health and home situation
- if family and friends are helping you
- what you're able to do for yourself
- what kind of help you need
If you qualify for some services, the Care Coordinator will make the arrangements for you. The case manager can also connect you with other services in your area, like a meal program or an adult day program.
If you don't qualify for services, or if you can't get enough support, you can get additional services from private homecare companies but you will have to pay for them.
Some community organizations have programs for seniors, like community meals, volunteer visitors, exercise programs, and other free or low cost services. Some programs have temporarily stopped because of COVID-19 restrictions but others are still operating. To see what is available in your neighbourhood, you can call 211, your municipality, or your HCCSS. You can also check with your friends, your local community centre, community newspapers, and social media.
If you disagree
If you don't agree with the decision of your HCCSS Care Coordinator, you can ask to have the decision changed.
First, you should speak to your Care Coordinator. Explain why you think their decision is wrong. For example, the Care Coordinator might decide that you don't need help in the morning. But you might have hip or knee problems that make it unsafe for you to get into your bathtub or shower without help. Or you might need help getting up and dressed in the morning but once you're up you can manage for the rest of the day.
Make sure your Care Coordinator understands what help you need and why you need it. Your doctor or family members can also give more information about why you need help.
If your Care Coordinator won't change the decision, ask them to send you their decision in writing. You should also ask for an information sheet that tells you how to make a complaint.
Follow the complaint process carefully. There might be deadlines for sending in your complaint and making your arguments. Be sure to do each step on time.
The first decision will be reviewed by a different Care Coordinator or a supervisor. After the review, they will make a final decision. You should receive the final decision within 60 days after the date you made your complaint.
If you don't agree with the final decision, or if you don't receive it within 60 days, you may be able to appeal to the Health Services Appeal and Review Board (HSARB).
To start the appeal, tell the HSARB that you want a hearing. You can write a letter to HSARB or send an email to email@example.com. Include your name, address, phone number, and email address. If you have a representative, you should include their name and contact information too. You must include a copy of the decision you're appealing.
When they receive your request, the Board will send you their rules and information about what you need to do and what will happen at the hearing. You will also get a date and time for your hearing. During COVID-19 there are no in-person hearings. Most hearings are being held by phone.