Making the Move: Public or private? Options in long-term care

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Matt Del Vecchio

Thank you for your feedback from last month’s column about the differences between public and private residences. It showed there is interest in gaining more knowledge about our health care system particularly related to our senior living options as we age. In response to your inquiries, here are some more details regarding long-term care residences.

A Centre d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD) is what we would typically refer to as a nursing home or long-term care residence. A CHSLD accommodates adults experiencing a loss of functional or psychosocial independence,who can no longer live at home, in spite ofsupport from family and friends.

The rule of thumb is that an individual who requires more than three hours of care a day should be able to qualify for admission to a CHSLD.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services oversees the certification of compliance and their operating standards. The majority of CHSLD’s are public. In other words, you are obligated to go through your local CLSC to get into a public residence. An assessment will be performed toestablish care needs and to determine if youqualify for permanent placement. Placement is based on priority level, not a first-come-first-served basis. The waiting list can range fromseveral months to several years.

The Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre, Jewish Eldercare, St. Margaret, Bayviewand the chain of Vigi Santé residences (i.e. Queen Elizabeth, Mont Royal, Pierrefonds, DDO) are all considered part of the public health care system and you must go through your localCLSC for admission.

2019 monthly costs for a public CHSLD

• Private room: $1,910.40

• Semi-private room (2 per room): $1,596.00

• Room with 3 or more beds: $1,189.20

Included in these costs are nursing care, assis-tance with dressing, bathing (twice a week), drug administration, meals, housekeeping, laundry and incontinence products.

Families are responsible for costs such as hairdressing, personal products and newspapers, and sometimes cable and telephone depending onthe residence.

In Quebec, we are fortunate to have an option of private CHSLDs. They are also overseen by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. They must meet the same certification and compliancestandards as a public residence. They also provide the same services described in the public system and follow the same guidelines.

The major differences are waiting times and costs. Waiting times can vary greatly however they are significantly less than public residences. It is not uncommon to get admitted in less than a couple of months (if not immediately). This is particularly beneficial for urgent admissions such as hospital discharges.

Many families also choose a private CHSLD while waiting to be admitted into a public residence. The process for waiting in the public system can be frustrating with some calling it “inhuman” as families often have no choice but to take the first available transition (temporary) bed.  This bed can be in a geographic region not suitable to the family.

Costs in the private sector are understandably higher than a public CHSLD. They can range from $4,000 to $7,000 a month with an averageof $5,000. The provincial government will contribute approximately $700-$750 per month as a Tax Credit for Home-Support Services forSeniors. Most private CHSLD’s offer private rooms with some offering semi-private.

Transitioning to a long-term care residence can be challenging. For more information, contact your local CLSC or reach out to industry experts specializing in senior housing and transitions.

Matt Del Vecchio is the owner of Lianas Services Senior Transition Support and host of “LifeUnrehearsed” on CJAD800 Sundays at 4pm. mdelvecchio@lianasservices.com

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