Retirement Home Search: Using a Case Manager

Case Managers help navigate the healthcare system 

In the Comfort Life Spotlight

If you are intent on learning more on your own, you can also use resources such as our detailed guide to Ontario retirement homes.

"You get to know the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker and everyone involved in the client's life," says Jocelyn Jones, the executive director of the Ontario Case Managers Association (OCMA).

"It is a terrifically rewarding experience. You get to know the people in their own homes and get to know their families. It is satisfying because you really do feel that you make a difference."

Anyone who applies for a publicly funded /home-care service will be assessed and monitored by a case manager, says Jones, a 30-year nursing veteran and York Region case manager.

In Ontario, for example, there are more than 5,000 case managers and they come from all sectors of health, social and human services including, for example, Veterans Affairs or the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. They work at either Community Care Access Centres or at hospitals, and more than 70 per cent are registered nurses. The rest have physiotherapy or social work backgrounds.

Jones says being a case manager allows her to see different lifestyles and how circumstances affect people. "I've been in homes that would knock your socks off and others where you need three pairs of socks just to step in," she says.

Sue Walden, a case manager at the Lennox and Addington County General Hospital in Napanee, Ontario, often works with people who require help so they can be discharged from hospital.

"(Many seniors) are facing more difficult social situations. Families are busy and widespread, leaving seniors on their own. They face more risks, such as falls and not being able to properly care for themselves," Walden says.

She recalls visiting an 80-year-old woman recently diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. The woman and her two daughters knew little of the health-care system, and needed reassurance that they would receive support. The elderly patient was relieved to find out she would not become a burden on her family.

"The client interaction is the most rewarding part for me - face-to-face, sitting down and developing a relationship with them. I can help them [find the right retirement home]," Walden says. "They are so grateful because they know that at least they are not out there alone."

Learn more about Ontario home health care.

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