Social workers and their role in senior care in Ontario

Those of us lucky enough to live in Ontario have access to amazing social workers and other support personnel to help when crisis strikes. Whether for a broken hip or a serious medical condition, all of the professionals working within the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) work together to help seniors return home after a hospital stay.

Their philosophy focuses on keeping seniors safe in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible with community supports. At Living Assistance Services, we share the same philosophy and understand the importance of being home for recovery.

The Discharge Process

Seniors who live alone or have a limited support network and require extra help after a hospital stay are kept in hospital until LHIN staff is able to arrange the support services needed. This is no small task, when you consider the increasing aging population. They help more than 637,000 people each year and this number is expected to continue to rise.

Unfortunately, an overburdened network means that many seniors are forced to remain in hospitals even after it’s no longer a medical necessity. For the patient, this results in an increased risk of hospital-associated complications, ranging from a decline in physical functioning to infections. It also means tying up acute care beds, which remain in short supply.

Hospital social workers and LHIN staff do what they can to support patients to return home. A big part of this is providing the patient and family—if any—with advice and information on how to help the patient manage at home. Much of this relies on family members being able to help and take on as much of the caregiving as possible, with some outside support. Finding sufficient care at home for seniors who don’t have family, whose family live far away, or are busy with their own lives is especially difficult. This often results in a longer hospital stay while other home care services are arranged.

Private Home Care Agencies Offer an Alternative to Get Seniors Home Sooner

LHINs have their hands full when it comes to the number of seniors in hospitals requiring home care before their discharge. This can be just as frustrating for them as it is for patients. Private home care agencies like ours provide an alternative for seniors who require extra home health care services so they can return home after a hospital stay.

Our highly experienced caregivers can be there from discharge through recovery.

Our registered nurse reviews and assesses caregiving needs free of charge. Our caregivers don’t just provide home health care services, but are also available to provide supplementary care in the hospital, if needed.

We offer RN-supervised support, such as administering medication and injections, wound care, pain management, and much more. Our caregivers can also help with all aspects of personal care, housekeeping and meal preparation, and even errands. Chronic disease and palliative care are also available.

Our wide range of home care services are catered to the senior’s specific needs so they get as much or as little care as needed while they make the transition from hospital back to home for recovery. And because we’re able to arrange home care quickly— with as little as 24 to 48 hours notice in some cases—patients can return to the comfort of home much sooner.

If you or an aging loved one is in need of support once you leave the hospital, give us a call to learn more about how we can help you during your recovery.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources
Facts about Local Health Integration Network Home and Community Care Services. http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/lhin/facts.aspx
Supporting Seniors Return Home from Hospital. http://www.hnhblhin.on.ca/goalsandachievements/integrationpopulationbased/olderadultstheirfamiliesandcaregivers/supportingseniorsreturnhome.aspx
http://www.waterloowellingtonlhin.on.ca/newsandstories/current_news/20140129mohseniorshome.aspx

Safety For Seniors at Home – Making Your Loved One’s Home Safe

What may not constitute an obstacle to you may be to your elder loved one. There are actually areas of the home that should be addressed to better suit the mobility and agility limitations we can all expect to experience as we age.

Take a Walk Through The House

  • Keep all areas of the home, including hallways and stairs, well-lit but free from glare.
  • Remove scatter rugs or attach a nonskid backing to them.
  • Reduce the risk of falling on uncarpeted floors by ensuring they are not slippery. Do not use any gloss polish.
  • Use night lights in the bedroom, hallways, kitchen and the bathroom.
  • Remove all newspapers and magazines from the kitchen counter areas.
  • Inspect electrical cords for fraying or cracking; be sure they are placed away from walking paths, but not under a carpet or furniture, where they could present a fire hazard.
  • Set the hot water heater/tank temperature to 115 degrees (Fahrenheit) or 46 degrees (Celsius) – or less.
  • Use slop-resistant decals or non-skid mats in the tub or shower.
  • Install grab bars in the bathtub and near the toilet; be sure the screws go directly into the wall studs, so that they remain securely in place.
  • Check to be sure that extension cords are not overloaded and are clear of walkways.
  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of the house and test them monthly.
  • Destroy out-of-date medications and those which are no longer being used.
  • Place a telephone in the bedroom. Post emergency numbers by all telephones.
  • Keep space heaters away from flammable materials and be sure the room is well ventilated.
  • A three-pronged plug should be used in a three hole outlet or an adapter should be used.
  • Always turn off heating pads before an older person goes to sleep.

Have a Plan

Have an emergency exit plan and an alternative plan in case of fire. If the older person has a disability, call the local fire department and have them give you some stickers for the windows.

You may want to review some of these issues with your loved one and call Living Assistance Services to assist you in making your loved one’s home safer and happier.

Making the home safer makes your life easier!

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Smart Technology for seniors – Can it replace the Human Touch?

With our senior population growing faster than ever, so are smart technologies geared at improving the lives of seniors. Smart technology—or gerantechnology—devices include things like telecare and telehealth, robotics, and various information and communication devices, from smartphones to health trackers. With all of these products available to do anything from control lighting and appliances with one swipe to sensors to track movements and remind you that it’s time to move or take a medication, the jury is still out on how many seniors will use these products.

Gerantechnology devices are available across the world and promise seniors healthier and more independent and active lives. While this appears to be the wave of the future for seniors, those who require extra help right now are less likely to use these devices and many prefer good old fashioned human care.

Number of Seniors Using Smart Technology in Canada

While the number of seniors using the internet has increased in recent years, this isn’t the case for smart phones or other connected devices. More than 76 percent of Canadians own a smartphone, according to Statistics Canada, but this number drops significantly in the senior population, primarily for those over 75. Only 18 percent of Canadians over 75 own a connected device.

The trend continues when it comes to those who believe that smart technology has or can improve their lives. Only 38 percent of Canadians over 75 believe their lives are better or report improvement because of smart technology.

Smart Technologies vs In-Home Care

There’s no doubt that some smart technology can help make life easier for seniors, especially those who live alone. Technology that monitors the comfort, safety, and security of home or wearables that can alert emergency services to a fall or medical emergency can provide peace of mind not only for the elderly, but also their loved ones.

Many of the other smart technology devices available are likely to be a hard sell for seniors who are not tech-savvy or are living on a limited income. Trusting a device to take the place of human care is also something that many seniors are not comfortable with.

The cost of some of these devices and the monitoring to use them can be expensive. And even with online tutorials and detailed manuals, there’s always the worry that the user will have difficulty using the features properly or to their full potential. This is especially the case for those cognitive issues that accompany aging and illness.

In-home care services can help seniors age with dignity and independence in the comfort of home. Medication reminders, regular visits, errands, and transportation are just some of the in-home care services we offer.

This isn’t to say that some of the available technology isn’t worth considering, of course. Smart phones or tablets that allow seniors to stay connected with friends and loved ones who live far away or when mobility is an issue are wonderful. Fitness trackers that remind you to get up and move around are great for those who are able to do so safely on their own.

As amazing as these technologies are, it’s comforting to know that the human connection is still available for seniors who need or simply prefer assistance from a real, live human who has been trained to provide care and companionship.

Pauline Lyons, CPCA
Director of Community Relations

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

More Women Are Living Longer and Making It Work – You Can Too

You’ve likely noticed that when it comes to older people, more women seem to live alone than older men. The Canadian government has noticed this, too. According to Statistics Canada, women over 65 are almost twice more likely to live alone than senior men and this includes 31 percent of women over the age of 90.

It’s not surprising given that women have a longer life expectancy than men—explaining the two women for every man aged 85 and older reported by Statistics Canada in 2016! That ratio increases to five to one for centenarians!

The tendency to form partnerships/marry men who are slightly older also contributes to this. It’s also a known fact that older women aren’t as interested in finding a partner later in life and more prefer to go it alone than men, who are more likely to seek companionship regardless of age—often with a younger woman.

Help for Senior Women Living Alone

Regardless of how capable and independent a woman is, living alone as health and care needs change isn’t always easy. The size of our family and social networks decrease with age, especially for women living alone, many of whom report having fewer people they feel close to. As much as they may enjoy their independence, many women who alone report missing having people around and worry about the potential vulnerabilities they face as they age. Even those who enjoy financial stability and good health know that these circumstances can change quickly. Having a limited number of family and close friends means not having a potential caregiver to help when the need arises.

Finding Support

A lack of a support system to help with senior care needs isn’t the only issue for older women who find themselves without a social or family network. Loneliness is a real struggle that has mental and physical health implications and has been found to be a serious problem among seniors, especially those living alone.

Community is important and building connections and a support system is crucial, even if you’re enjoying single life as a senior. This can help combat loneliness and ensure that you have help when you need it.

Some ways to find support:

  • Meet and get to know your neighbours
  • Join social clubs
  • Attend events in your community
  • Stay in contact with any friends and family
  • Take an exercise class
  • Engage a companion or Personal Support Worker (PSW)

For those who are computer-savvy, the internet is a great place to find community groups and social clubs in your neighbourhood, including many geared at seniors. Senior centers also offer a variety of classes, workshops, and social events.

Enlisting professional home care services can also help for those who need assistance with things like household chores or getting to medical appointments. Home care agencies also have caregivers who can help with transportation to get you to and from social activities and community events, as well as joyful companionship if you spend a lot of time alone because of a limited social or family network.

Women are living longer and thriving well into their senior years. With a little extra support, you can continue to enjoy your independence and do the things you love, for longer and on your terms in a location where most seniors wish to be … at home.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources
Living arrangements of seniors. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-312-x/98-312-x2011003_4-eng.cfm
Senior Women. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-503-x/2010001/article/11441-eng.htm#a7