Retirement verses long term care. People move mom or dad or older family into these beautiful hotel like atmospheres only to realize after the move they are very regulated and take away much freedom and care is often not what is expected. They may be pretty however they are overseen by regulations and authority and need to be reviewed carefully before placing your loved one under their care.
Long term care (LTC) is overseen by at least 27 regulations set by government and the MoH (Ministry of Health). Retirement is overseen by at least 10 regulations set by the RHRA (Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority). There is quite a difference. Long term care has one set of standards that says for every 8 or 9 clients there must be a caregiver or personal support worker. Under the RHRA the ratios are for every 30 clients there is one caregiver. This makes a huge difference when your loved one needs personal attention and care. The LHIN (Local Health Integrated Network) is the newest version of CCAC, a system that assigns care to older adults in their “home” environment at what is perceived as “free” care. It is not “free” it is paid for by our government system and your tax dollars. It is a contract system where companies vie for the “right” to be one of these companies that send in caregivers to your loved one and bill the government coffers.
These caregivers can and do go into retirement homes as it is considered the client’s residence. In my experience, I have been a care provider (employee) overseeing 25+ aging adults in a retirement environment, where people pay $2500+ for a 12′ X 14′ space, and I watch contract caregivers pop in and over a short period of time “put your loved one to bed”. They are scheduled anywhere from 6:30 – 8:30 pm to come in, dress, wash and literally put to bed the client. This means your mom or dad is in bed for 12 – 14 hours based on the schedule of the business overseeing this client. I have seen 3 – 4 different businesses represented and all having clients in the retirement home I have worked in. These workers make little more than minimum wage and I have witnessed one worker having 17 clients to see in a 2.5 hour span of time. Do the math, that is 8 minutes per client allowed for a bed time or morning routine. As you read this you may have a better understanding of this news article from this morning’s headline.
What I have seen in the past 20 years is a societal pressure to warehouse our aging adults. It is simply understood that as soon as mom, dad or auntie shows signs of needing help at home, families choose to look for a way to move them into a retirement community of some sort thinking it is for the best for all concerned. This is often unnecessary. With some support many older adults can remain at home in an environment that is familiar and then, during times like we have just witnessed, are not a pawn in a game of holding them hostage in the premise of “keeping them safe.” What is safety? When is safety measures imposing on overall health and wellness? When is love compromised to the point that meaning and purpose for life is lost and depression and increased threat of death moves in. In this recent pandemic, many elders have only seen the faces of their care providers for months … missing family and slipping further into cognitive disease and losing valued memories. I have had arguments defending the elder because this is not fun to be feeling like you are imprisoned in a place where you pay to stay!
As an advanced care planner, personal support assistant, and end of life care provider I wish to ask you to consider seriously when moving and caring for the aging adult in your life. Take the time to investigate all possibilities and look at private home care. At an average of $4000 per month for retirement rooms, good private care is an option for all. I can help. Do the math, at $25 per hour for private care, $4000 buys you 160 hours per month or five hours of care every day, and your loved one stays in familiar territory and you have more ability to control germs and guests.