Where do I start?

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A good place to start
Finding out about long term care homes and community services 
Finding out about seniors' housing
Am I choosing the right option?


A good place to start

A visit to the family physician may be a good place to start. He or she may not understand all of the ins and outs of the long term care system, but can determine if there is a particular health problem in evidence, whether it is wise to continue living alone, or if some additional support would be advisable. Further consultations with a geriatrician - a physician specializing in the process of aging - or other specialists may be recommended. Then it is time to begin to consider the appropriate options.

Start by taking a look at the OANHSS member organizations (not-for-profit long term care homes, seniors' housing, and community service agencies) in your area.

Finding out about long term care homes and community services

To find out about the community services and long term care homes in your area, the place to begin is with your local Community Care Access Centre. CCACs, as they are known, are not service providers. Rather, they are “one stop shopping” centres to help you connect with the services you need.

CCACs arrange for health and personal support services to be provided in peoples' homes and arrange admissions to long term care homes. CCACs also provide information and referrals to other community services including supportive housing, meals-on-wheels, friendly visiting, transportation services, adult day programs and caregiver respite programs.

On January 1, 2007, CCACs underwent organizational changes that aligned them with the geographic boundaries of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) across the province. This reorganization has enables CCACs to provide improved access to services through consistent services and business practices and easing navigation for clients within the health care system.  In addition, it has strengthened their capacity to meet the increasing demand for home care services.

Click here to locate your CCAC

CCAC assessors - staff trained to assess each individual's requirements - determine the eligibility of persons to receive assistance for the services that CCACs can offer.

CCAC staff might suggest:

  • Admission to an Adult Day Centre a few mornings a week. Often these programs, which help not only the quality of life of the client, but which give needed relief to caregivers, are to be found in community centres, long term care homes, or even in shopping malls, run by not-for-profit community groups.
  • Respite Care (usually referred to as a “Short Stay Program”) These programs, often found in long term care homes, allow the client - or even, sometimes the caregiver - to be away from the usual demanding home situation for a few days.
  • Homecare - this program can supply certain hours of care in the person’s home, including basic assistance with daily living, giving help with a bath, some meal preparation, etc.
  • Admission application to a Long Term Care Home / Nursing Home - when help in the community is no longer adequate, care in a long term care home is usually the next step. 

CCACs cannot help with applications for housing or retirement home options, but they are often able to make suggestions about them. The local CCAC can give details about what is provided in the vicinity.

More on long term care homes...


Finding out about seniors' housing

There is a wide range of housing options for seniors but you have to do a little digging to find out what is available in your community. A good place to start is You may want to investigate the following:

  • Social housing - includes non-profit, public and co-operative housing. The purpose is to provide affordable housing for seniors, families and single people with low to moderate incomes. Municipal governments are now responsible for funding and administering all social housing through a body referred to as Service Managers. Service Managers are also responsible for managing a centralized waiting list for people looking to get into social housing. There are 47 Service Managers across the province - contact your local municipal government to find out about social housing in your community.
  • Supportive housing - provides supports to help people to live independently in the community. If you know of a seniors' building in your area that offers support services contact them directly for information on how to get on the waiting list. Otherwise, the best place to start is your local Community Care Access Centre (see above).
  • Life Lease Housing - relatively new housing option that is somewhat similar to condominium style living but residents neither rent nor own the unit - they purchase a "right to occupy" - most life lease projects are operated by not-for-profits. There is no centralized list of projects - check your local phone book or take a look at the list of OANHSS housing members in your area.
  • Retirement Homes/Adult Lifestyle Communities - vary widely in terms of the services provide, their amenities, type of accommodation, and the cost of being a resident. There is no centralized waiting list. Check your local phone book or visit the Ontario Residential Care Association site or the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority

More on seniors' housing...


Am I choosing the right option?

Whether one of the several housing options appeals, whether a day program would suffice, whether a long term care home is the likely next step, be certain that you visit the agency or home. You will get a feel from that visit about the atmosphere, about the staffing, about the way the clientele react to staff and to each other, about the programs offered, and about how welcomed you feel during the visit. You may want to take a look at our suggested checklist of questions to consider when visiting homes.

Between your own physician’s diagnosis and the assessment of the CCAC case manager, the decision about the correct services required should be accurate for the moment. Remember that situations change. The appropriate service today may not be right three months down the line. The professionals involved in each situation will advise if it seems to be in your best interest to find another option.

If you live in one part of the province, and wish to bring a family member closer to you from another area of the country, you may certainly do so. Admission is not restricted to persons residing in the immediate area of the home.

Even if, in an emergency situation, or because of long waiting lists in programs or homes, choices are being made for you that are not your first choice, you have every right to request an eventual move to the home you select.

Helpful Weblinks

2012 OANHSS Annual Report