The Finding Home Blog
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After my mother suffered a major stroke, she became an ALC (alternative level of care) patient or what is sometimes referred to as a “bed blocker,” a somewhat insensitive term used to describe someone who is essentially stuck in a hospital (in Mom’s case, an acute care hospital), because a more appropriate alternative is not available. In my mother’s case, the only appropriate alternative was long-term care.
Having a background in researching long-term care needs and solutions was a helpful starting place in the search for a long-term care home for Mom. Frankly I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would have been without this base knowledge.
Even so, it was no easy task. Some of the most challenging aspects of my search involved time (or lack thereof), and knowledge of both the available options as well as the rules around access.
There were two aspects to the time challenge. First was moving quickly.
The longer we took to choose the homes to put on the list, the longer Mom would have to wait in hospital, a less than ideal solution.
The other aspect to the time challenge was finding it.
In addition to my responsibilities as a mother, I was also working full-time in a role that required me to travel several days a week. And, of course, Mom was in hospital and needed visits, not just behind-the-scenes help. It was a team effort – our family was very fortunate that my sister took the lead on helping Mom directly, spending countless hours with her in hospital (I am forever in awe of her compassion and fortitude), and that my brother and sister-in-law were such strong advocates for Mom and helped her in many ways including with her physiotherapy exercises.
We knew which home Mom would prefer but due diligence was needed and, as it turned out, that home had one of the longest waiting lists in the region, and we needed to search more broadly.
Even though it was a team effort and even though I had a background in the topic, the search was still time-consuming. First came the initial research to narrow down the long-term care home options. Then came coordinating the visits with the homes and family members. Third came visits to each home on our larger list to determine which ones we would include in our submission to what was then known as the CCAC (or Community Care Access Centre) and is now known as the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network).
Understanding the options
The internet was a good starting place but not everything we would have liked to know up front about the homes could be found there. And it still can’t: there are some things you can’t know about a home and how it functions until you ask that home. Not only that, the internet is a pretty big place with different pieces of the information puzzle being housed in many locations.
At first, I wasn’t sure I was asking all the pertinent questions: it was a bit like buying a home without a realtor or inspector to help guide me. There were checklists to be found but not all seemed comprehensive and others were too long to complete during the tours. And once I had toured a few homes, I realized I’d missed asking questions during earlier tours.
Understanding the rules
The rules around accessing homes were not as clear as I would have liked. We had a lot of questions for the CCAC/LHIN:
- How many homes could we choose?
- Were we obligated to choose a certain number?
- Were we required to list homes with shorter waiting lists?
- How would Mom be prioritized on the list?
- If we included home options we weren’t keen on, what were the chances Mom could be transferred to the home of her choice?
- Should we include accommodation options that were more costly - and unsustainable over the long term - in the hopes of Mom being able to transfer to a less expensive option in the same home?
- Did waiting lists differ based on the type of accommodation chosen?
The list of questions went on.
One final question
I had another broader question as well: If I had all these questions and concerns, and was spending so much time trying to find the right home for my mother, how many other families were experiencing the same challenges?
When the idea for my business – Home Once Again – came to me, I knew I could help seniors and their families by asking the myriad questions that come up over and again, housing the answers in a database that could be quickly filtered, and presenting the findings in a way that could be more easily understood.
Want to know whether Home Once Again could help you navigate your search and find the right home faster? Contact me today for a free initial consultation.
About the author
Teresa Schnurr felt called to open Home Once Again while searching for long-term care for her mother, then for a retirement home for her mother-in-law. Teresa's background in long-term care research helped a great deal but she realized through these searches that most people faced with such tasks had little background knowledge to guide them through their many choices, rules and regulations.