Home and community care
How to get help for patients and seniors who need support living at home.
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Home and community services support people of all ages who require care in their home, at school or in the community.
Seniors and people with complex medical conditions of all ages can often stay in their own homes if they have some support.
If you qualify, the Ontario government pays for a wide range of services in your home and community.
If you don’t qualify, you may be eligible for community support services that often have a client co-payment. You can also get help from private companies for a fee.
How to arrange home care and access to community services
Home and Community Care Support Services organizations provide patient care including home care and long-term care home placement services and facilitate access to community services. Home and Community Care Support Services organizations are responsible for deciding who receives care, the level of care you need and for how long.
Home and Community Care Support Services is the new business name for Local Health Integration Networks, to reflect a focused mandate to deliver patient care.
To start this process:
1. Call your Home and Community Care Support Services organization
You will be introduced to a case manager or care coordinator.
To contact your Home and Community Care Support Services organization:
2. Check if you qualify for government-funded services
Your case manager will determine if you qualify.
If you don’t qualify, you may be able to receive services through community agencies, which may require a co-payment.
You can arrange and pay for services through a private company. Your local Home and Community Care Support Services organization can help you find services in your community.
3. Tell the case manager about your needs
Your case manager will tell you what services your Home and Community Care Support Services organization can provide and what’s available in your community. Government-funded services are delivered by health professionals and personal support workers who are under contract with your Home and Community Care Support Services organization.
4. Arrange a home visit
Your case manager will need to visit your home to assess your health.
If you qualify, your case manager will create a customized home care plan that meets your specific needs. If your needs change, your case manager can reassess your health and adjust your plan of care.
5. Apply for care
If you qualify for government-funded care, Home and Community Care Support Services organizations will coordinate your application and select the provider for you.
To arrange private care, you must contact the service provider directly.
If you don’t qualify
If you don’t qualify for government-funded services and believe that you should, you can appeal the Home and Community Care Support Services organization’s decision through the Ontario Health Services Appeal and Review Board (HSARB). You can also contact the Board if a service you previously received has stopped or been reduced.
Types of services in your home
In-home services available through Home and Community Care Support Services organizations are made up of:
1. Health care professionals
You can arrange to have health professionals visit you in your home. They can assess your needs, provide care or help you to care for yourself by providing:
- nursing care - including help to take medications, change bandages and clean wounds, recover from an injury or health problem, check your health, create a care plan
- physiotherapy - including help for back pain, mobility problems, blood circulation, pain relief and relaxation
- occupational therapy - including help to make day-to-day activities easier and make it easier to move around in your home
- speech-language therapy - including stroke recovery for seniors who have difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- social work - including help for caregivers to cope and manage stress, help for families to address conflicts
- healthy eating - including help to assess eating habits and create a healthy eating plan
- home healthcare supplies - including dressings, walking aids, braces, cushions
2. Personal care
You can arrange for health care professionals to help you with your daily care or help you safely manage these activities yourself. They can help you with:
- washing and bathing
- mouth care
- hair care
- preventative skin care
- routine hand or foot care
- getting in and out of chairs, vehicles or beds
- dressing and undressing
- taking you to appointments
To help maintain a safe and comfortable home, homemaking services can assist you with routine household activities including:
- doing laundry
- paying bills
- planning menus
- preparing menus
- caring for children
4. Family-managed home care/Self-directed care
For greater flexibility and choice, if you’re eligible for services through your Home and Community Care Supports Services organization, you may be eligible to receive funding directly to pay for home care services. You are responsible for the related administrative tasks, such as finding, hiring and paying your service providers, but you also have the freedom to choose your provider, direct how they care for you or your loved one and set a schedule that best works for you.
This program is available for the following people with home care needs:
- children with complex medical needs
- adults with an acquired brain injury
- home-schooled children with qualifying health care needs
- those in extraordinary circumstances
Contact your local Home and Community Care Support Services organization to find out if you are eligible and for more information on how this program works.
5. End-of-life care at home
If you or a loved one requires end-of-life care at home, there are many programs in Ontario that can help you. You can request:
- nursing and personal care
- medical supplies, including low-cost medication for seniors through the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan
- hospital and sickroom equipment
- transportation to other health services
- help to manage pain
- home hospice services - including in-home visits and respite care by trained volunteers
Types of services in your community
Many communities have services just for seniors and other people who may need support to continue living independently at home. You may have to pay a fee for some of these programs or you may find there is funding available. Some of these services are offered only in larger communities. You can find:
- adult day programs - including social, fitness and other healthy activities
- transportation services - for people who don’t have public transportation or need help to use it
- community hospice services - including counselling, support groups, yoga and art classes, grief support
- residential hospices - where end-of-life care is provided in a home-like environment for those who can no longer stay in their own homes. People in residential hospices receive a wide range of palliative services to keep them comfortable.
Exercise and falls prevention classes
These classes help seniors stay active, healthy and independent. They focus on improving strength and balance to prevent injury and falls. They are led by fitness instructors, trained peer facilitators or support workers - not a registered physiotherapist
You may find classes offered in your community or long-term care homes.
To find a class near you call the Seniors’ INFOline:
Assisted Living Services
Assisted Living Services support people who need a greater level of service than what home care can offer, but without the medical monitoring or 24/7 nursing supervision provided in long-term care homes.
These services are most often, but not only, provided in settings such as supportive housing, apartment buildings or where clients live close together. This enables care to be provided as a drop-in or as-needed basis, instead of scheduled visits.
Services are targeted towards:
- persons with physical disabilities
- persons with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
- persons with HIV/AIDS
- high-risk seniors
- personal support services (24 hours a day, seven days a week, scheduled and non-scheduled)
- homemaking services
- security checks
- care coordination between Assisted Living Services and home care
Find out if you are eligible for Assisted Living Services through the Home and Community Care Support Services organization in your region.
How to make a complaint
To report harm, neglect or other complaints about home care in Ontario, call the Long-term Care ACTION Line:
Hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., 7 days a week
Home care wait times
Ontario reports on home care wait times against a five-day provincial target for:
- people requiring home nursing services including respite and palliative care
- people with complex care needs requiring in-home personal support services like grooming, dressing, bathing and bed care
These reports show the percentage of people who receive home care within five days of the service being approved by a Home and Community Care Support Services organization. Reporting is updated on a quarterly basis.
Home and Community Care Support Services organizations assist all clients who require home care services as soon as possible. Although wait times may vary between patients because of a number of factors, including urgency and the complexity of care required. For example, someone who requires immediate care after a significant surgery will be prioritized over someone with less urgent needs.