One of the most common questions we hear from seniors (and family caregivers alike) is, “How do I get someone to help me with bathing, medications or getting dressed in my home?”
There is more than one answer to that question!
For the purpose of simplicity, I’ll start with the program called Home and Community Care. In another column, I’ll discuss why some families or seniors choose to use private pay care providers and tips on hiring the right company or individual.
Home and Community Care of Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA — often pronounced VEE-HAH) provides community-based health services to assist individuals with some form of acute or chronic illness and/or physical challenge to remain independent in their home for as long as possible.
Eligibility for services is based on a standard assessment conducted by a case manager. A case manager will do the assessment in-home and determine type and frequency of home supports, whether or not an aging loved one would be a good candidate for adult day programs and/or placement in assisted living or a residential care facility.
The case manager also works with the client and family members to discuss a care plan and health goals.
If an older adult is eligible and accepts services, community health workers provide in-home support including assistance with bathing/showering, medication management, getting dressed, personal hygiene and toileting. Community health workers also provide respite for family caregivers.
Accessing Home and Community Care is always done through a referral process. For instance, if you or an aging loved one was in hospital and discharged, sometimes case managers at the hospital (called liaison case managers) organize home support, physiotherapy, occupational therapy or home care nursing to make sure clients have services in place when they return home.
In other instances a family physician will make a referral to Home and Community Care if he or she feels additional support is needed. Or, a family caregiver, concerned neighbour or the senior themselves can make a referral to Home and Community Care.
Referrals can be made by calling 250-331-8570 or toll-free at 1-866-928-4988.
Once a referral is made, an intake co-ordinator will call the care recipient to get some details such as basic contact information, major health concerns, family doctor’s contact information and BC Health Care number.
The time it takes to have an assessment date varies depending on the individual and their health needs. A good question to ask the intake co-ordinator is to ask about how long to expect to wait for the in-home assessment.
Once the intake process is complete, a case manager from VIHA will call to set up a time for an in-home visit. However, it’s not unusual for more than one health professional to make a visit.
For instance, if you’ve had a fall, a physiotherapist or occupational therapist may visit to help with exercises or mobility aids. Or if you have a wound, a home care nurse may provide treatment and education.
It’s advisable to keep a notepad by the phone and ask the person their name, what they do, which organization they are with and the date of the appointment. This helps keep track of information and eases with followup, if required.
Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Planning. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.
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