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Senior care advisor

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Our senior care advisor hub is patterned around essential questions about knowing when to get care, where to find it, and when and how to seek more help. This is an ideal starting point, if you are caring for a senior loved one or you are senior with increasing questions or concerns. Links below point to professional, helpful content on this page or to other helpful resources and content on our website.

Content on this page is focused on publicly-funded resources and how to use those resources. This tool was originally created in 2012 and has been updated for 2018.


Social workers (also known as case managers) are trained professionals who work with citizens in the community as well as in institutions. They assist them in resolving health or other issues, often by accessing various social assistance programs.

What training do social workers /case managers have?

Social workers usually major in sociology, psychology, or another social science and take courses in related fields, such as economics, child studies, education, and political science. Graduate study often covers human growth and development, social welfare policies, and methods of social work. Most graduate schools offer work-study programs that give students experience in agencies, hospitals, or schools.

What is a geriatric case manager?

When working with seniors, social workers often assume the role of a geriatric case manager, assisting elders and their families with long term care issues.

Geriatric case manager duties include:

Seniors seeking access to government-funded support programs are assigned a social worker to assess their needs. These needs are usually based on the activities of daily living (ADLs).

Activities of Daily Living

ADLs are defined as "the things we normally do" such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, working, homemaking, and leisure activities. ADLs is a term used in healthcare to refer to these kinds of daily self-care activities performed within an individual's place of residence, in outdoor environments, or both.

Health professionals routinely refer to the ability or inability to perform ADLs as a measurement of the functional status of a person, particularly with regard to seniors and people with disabilities.

Basic ADLs consist of self-care tasks, including: Instrumental ADLs let an individual live independently in a community

Evaluating a senior's ADL abilities

When assessing a senior for home care and support services, the social worker will evaluate the person's ADL abilities and recommend services to address any deficiencies, while still allowing them to maximize the abilities that are in place.

For example, a low-vision client may need special equipment, but still be able to read documents and pay bills; a client using a wheelchair may need assistance with a shower but still be capable of shopping and making meals.

How do I apply?

Referrals for government-funded home care and support services may be made by a family doctor, the senior themselves or family and friends, with the senior's knowledge and consent. The initial contact will result in the assignment of a case manager or "care coordinator".

What does the case manager / care coordinator do?

Care and support services:

Care resources are scarce and expensive, so each person's requirements are carefully assessed and the hours of care and support assigned are based on that assessment of needs.

Care and support services are delivered by health provider agencies under contract on behalf of the provincial ministry of health.

Care Services: Support Services:

Who will deliver these services to me?

Care and support services are delivered by health provider agencies under contract on behalf of the provincial ministry of health. Care will be delivered by Personal Support Workers (PSWs) who are trained in care techniques, and by Homemakers, who are trained to deliver meal preparation, housekeeping and companion services.

Long-term care, or nursing homes, are designed for persons requiring 24-hour care. Long-term care homes provide a wide range of services for people who can no longer live independently, and may be coming from their homes with community and government support, from a retirement residence that does not offer heavy care, or from hospital.

Cost subsidies:

The provincial ministry of health subsidizes the costs of long-term care; residents must pay the accommodation portion of the cost. Additional subsidies are available if income is insufficient. Provincial ministries of health also administer and regulate these homes, which may be private, non-profit or municipally owned.

Services include:


Long-term care homes have short-stay programs for up to 60 days at a time, to a maximum of 90 days during the calendar year to provide respite for a senior recovering from an illness or surgery, or for caregiver relief.

Eligibility and Admission

The community social worker / case manager is usually the point of entry to the long-term care system. In most provinces, applications are not made directly, but after the case manager has:

Applicants must be over the age of 18, have a valid provincial health card and have health needs that cannot reasonably or affordably be met in the community, and can be met in a long-term care home.

Typical Rates – reviewed annually:

Type of AccommodationDaily RateMonthly Rate
Long-Stay Basic$53.23$1,619.08
Long-Stay Semi-Private$61.23$1,862.41
Long-Stay Private$71.23$2,166.58

If there is insufficient annual income to pay for the basic room, a subsidy is available for a 'basic' level room. Based on Canada's principles of universal health care, if a potential resident is deemed to be eligible for placement in a long-term care home, admission cannot be refused because of an inability to pay.

Choosing A Home

It is strongly recommended that you or someone you trust make appointments to visit the long-term care homes you are considering before you make a final decision.

Here is a checklist of things to consider:

Developed by Comfort Life with help from ElderCareCanada

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