What seniors told us about community support & health services

There is a wide variety of good community support and health services but more are needed to keep seniors in their homes. Services more focused on individual needs would be helpful.

“… Acclaim Health and community services are great.” (BURLINGTON)

“We have wonderful day care for our people now in Georgetown…” (HALTON HILLS)

“I have a personal support worker (PSW) twice a day, seven days a week. Wonderful. Many more spaces need to be available in long-term care.” (BURLINGTON)

“One thing I hear a lot is more respite care available - there’s a huge need. It’s hard to get on the list and its expensive and a long wait.” (HALTON HILLS)

“The thing is there are a limited number of  spaces in the (day) program. There are  people  falling through the gaps. It’s that transition between community if they try to stay at home and live independent and/or resourcing all the services they can accessibly get for themselves…” (MILTON)

“…. So once you are in a supportive housing building, you are ok, but we haven’t got many of them.” (HALTON HILLS)

“The health services have been there for her however she feels there needs to be more home support. She feels people should be able to have treatment in their homes rather than go to clinics.” (MILTON)

“Part of the problem is that what help you are offered does not necessarily meet your needs … I am talking about providing you with something that keeps you in your home ...” (BURLINGTON)

“I think we could do with more things that help people stay home rather than having to move to a residence of some sort… Some help might be with housework at times. Sometimes you are so tired. So if you just had somebody to help… You can get it but you’ve got to pay for it and
when you are on pensions and low income you say forget it you’ve got to do it yourself.”
(HALTON HILLS)

“It would be helpful to have someone come into the home to do house cleaning and cleaning the windows.” (MILTON)

“… There are a lot of elderly people around us ... if (our neighbour) didn’t come with his
snow blower and do it, I’ve got to do it. I am not supposed to do it because I have a heart
thing ... how do we get it cleaned?” (HALTON HILLS)

“I thought the thing was to help people stay in their own homes more, but the resources are not being made available. The money is not there.” (MILTON)

Agencies, support groups and other tools provide information about services. But some seniors are not connected and some find the system confusing. And seniors indicate an advocate may be helpful.

“If you go to Links2Care that’s like opening a door to a multitude of possibilities because they make sure you are connected to the right people to get the right answer…” ?” (HALTON HILLS)

“I received all the information I needed when I was being discharged from (hospital). Very useful and timely.” (BURLINGTON)

“I know about services by word of mouth from the community nurse that ... I think that doctors’ offices should also inform people about services available.” (OAKVILLE)

“Only source of community (information) … is from the settlement worker with Halton Multicultural Council (HMC). She is very helpful.” (BURLINGTON DIVERSE)

“Being new to the country, the only facilities I know of is on the OHIP card … (MILTON DIVERSE)

“By belonging to the seniors centre, there is a lot of information available.” (MILTON)

“… it is very confusing at times because you have different groups that seem to cross over one another.” (BURLINGTON)

“… If you don’t understand where to go to get what you need, you are lost.” (MILTON)

“…when you go to any medical appointment, you should always have somebody with you that has a pen and paper - that listens and writes down because when somebody tells you
something that is pretty drastic, your brain focuses on that and you don’t hear the rest of the story …” (BURLINGTON)

“… what we truly need is an ombudsperson to be on call who has access to all the material that is available that people can call … It is much better than going through a list of services. Is there one person to contact that has all the information?” (MILTON)

“You have to have an advocate or you are not going to get the services in home that you need after leaving the hospital.” (BURLINGTON)

“It’s been my experience that the supports you get are dependent on how strong your doctor will advocate on your behalf …” (BURLINGTON)

Seniors and caregivers need to reach out to get information so they can plan before a crisis.

“… (seniors need to) reach out to get that help and ask questions and if they don’t, it is either family that have to be there immediately or they are going to be in a crisis situation.” (BURLINGTON)

“There is a lot of weight and responsibility left on the family. It’s a crisis situation what you get at the end. Everything has fallen apart. You don’t just wake up (and say) ‘Gee its time for me to get services” …” (MILTON)

“… there are lots available for the people who have the where with all to find out about it (information) and use it … the people that need things (information) the most are the least likely to avail themselves of the energy it takes to search things out or do things. They end up in real difficult situations …” (BURLINGTON)

“Big problems with CCAC … if people know to access CCAC early and to have their loved one assessed so they are on board before it’s an emergency.” (MILTON)

“… when do I need CCAC? … I do not need long term care but I may need it 6 months down the road … I thought maybe respite care because … I may have to go into the hospital over night or something … I want to know what the procedure is in the event of …” (BURLINGTON)

Caregivers are taking on a lot of responsibility and stress.

“On days you feel dead to the world …you don’t see an end to it because you know it’s permanent and sometimes you wonder what’s next. How long can I keep care of her?” (BURLINGTON)

“…How many people 85 can take care of their wife? I still do it … I take care of the laundry. I take care of bed sheets ... that’s what I live with 24/7.” (BURLINGTON)

“It was the district nurse that came to see him and she asked ‘how are you doing?’ and I said
‘I need a holiday’ … she gave me a phone number … it’s respite. …they said ‘yes, as long as you have OHIP you can have 168 hours a year which gives you one week…’ ” (HALTON HILLS)

Some seniors’ pensions and health coverage don’t cover the costs of services. “… health, dental, if you don’t have coverage you are lost, completely…” (OAKVILLE)

“A lot of the medications, for instance the new ones that come out, are not covered …” (OAKVILLE)

“There are more and more services available but at a cost” (OAKVILLE)

“… I’ve had a hearing aid for a long time. I must get it changed. But with our budget, it’s kind of difficult …” (HALTON HILLS)

“Cost of retirement homes scares me” (OAKVILLE)

“ ... If the pensions aren’t sufficient to pay for the cost of … going into a nursing home, then what happens? Where does a person go?” (HALTON HILLS)

“… in Oakville, they are bringing forward the high end senior options and the lower end is just not there.” (OAKVILLE)

Seniors and caregivers have concerns around placement in long-term care homes. “When I had to put my mother in a nursing home, it was the hardest thing I had to do, emotionally and physically it was affecting me.” (MILTON)

“Well I’ve had friends that … ended up in nursing homes here in Milton and were content where they were so I guess if I ever have to face that, I would look the same direction they did …” (MILTON DIVERSE)

“My husband had to go to LTC two years ago and was placed in Mississauga. The place was awful and far away. He transferred to Allendale which he likes and is doing better …” (HALTON HILLS)

“But they (Community Care Access Centre- CCAC) were very good when my dad got ill. She (CCAC staff) was very good at phoning me every couple of days saying ‘ok we have 4 people ahead of him…’ once he got in there, he was pretty much taken care of right until the end.” (HALTON HILLS)

“We do have a retirement home in Georgetown. It’s full.” (HALTON HILLS)

“The big problem is you have to take the first bed if you were on a crisis thing. You can even go to Etobicoke if there is a bed available. That’s not right for people living in Milton.” (MILTON)

“My father had to go to Fergus. That was a retirement home where they made him his meals and everything.” (HALTON HILLS)

“We have a member whose husband is in the hospital system because they can’t find a place.” (HALTON HILLS)

“Your name is on the list and if you are at the top and decide not to go, it goes right down to the bottom.” (HALTON HILLS)

Some seniors have concerns about accessing physician services, specialists, and provincial health care priorities.

“Very satisfied with her doctor and medical care. Doctor and medical care are accessible.” (BURLINGTON)

“I changed doctors and I am very happy with my new doctor.” (OAKVILLE)

“I appreciate the community services that I get …the medical centre … is very handy for me. The ramp and elevator in the building are very helpful. The pharmacy staff in that office is very good…” (OAKVILLE)

“There are other doctors now. They call it a family practice. If he is not available, you can phone another doctor on that list … two mornings a week they have a walk in clinic …” (OAKVILLE)

“We have good doctor’s services here too. They come right here to the residence.” (OAKVILLE)

“…In my country (Russia) I could ask for my doctor to come to my house. In Canada it is different ... difficult to see a doctor because of transportation.” (OAKVILLE DIVERSE)

“The waiting time to see a specialist is very long. First they have to see their family doctor.” (MILTON DIVERSE)

“After seeing a specialist, if they require further tests, they have to wait half a year or year before they get an appointment.” (MILTON DIVERSE)

“There are not enough doctors around” (HALTON HILLS)

“… I found with my own GP, that if you wanted to see him, you would call and he wouldn’t be available till Thursday of next month. You can’t just run down and see him.” (OAKVILLE)

“…You try to find a doctor after the age of 70 and see who will take you.” (BURLINGTON)

“They (doctors) don’t have time. If you don’t ask the right question, they can't give you the right answer.” (MILTON)

“… doctor … he now no longer has hospital privileges … If I have to go into the hospital, I’m going to see a doctor that I’ve never met before and he doesn’t know my history …” (OAKVILLE)

“… the provincial government is concentrating on making a big effort in seeing that people get their hips and knees done but other things do get neglected … The orthopedic surgeon who did my small repair last October in Parry Sound was able to accommodate my need because he had
used up all his hip and knee money from the government … but he could then move on to the rest of the small things …” (BURLINGTON)

“It’s an issue if you have to wait for cataract and your vision has gone to 20/90 and you are waiting 6 months to get a cataract surgery and you can’t drive at dawn and you can’t
drive at dusk. That’s what we were facing.” (BURLINGTON)

Seniors expressed concern around hospital capacity. Seniors feel walk in clinics and emergency services could be used more appropriately.

“The hospital … the care we had, received, was excellent. It was a bit crowded but the care was good.” (MILTON)

“The clinics that have opened up in the past 10 years have helped quite a bit …” (MILTON)

“… he is concerned if he goes to the emergency room, how would he communicate? …” (MILTON DIVERSE)

“… all of a sudden Oakville, Burlington, Milton is sprouting. It’s (Halton grown but yet the hospitals haven’t grown with it. Oakville’s going to build a new one but Burlington - it’s not antiquated, but it sure needs to expand.” (BURLINGTON)

“…he had to go into the hospital. I was blown away that they only had four palliative beds. Four. Well they need something because … everywhere is aging … where are they going to put them? …” (OAKVILLE)

“… Alzheimer’s is (on) the increase … The government within the next 15 or 20 years
will not be able to cope with demands that are being made on the health process now so that is a very worrisome thing …” (OAKVILLE)

“Every time you have to go in to emergency - it was 6 hours one time and almost 12 hours
because they couldn’t find a bed for her.” (HALTON HILLS)

“… the waiting time at the hospital. Sometimes you can go there and wait for two hours, three hours. I would like to see that seniors get some kind of a break in the waiting at the hospital because it doesn’t seem to be any difference if you are a senior or not, you get a number.” (OAKVILLE)

“... People complain about going to the emergency but sometimes when you walk in the emergency and look at some of these people and think, “Why are you here? We have walk in clinics. Why are you tying up an emergency when you can go to a walk in clinic? ” (BURLINGTON)

“The health care system has become more expert. The population has lost its expertise
about taking care of illness … the community has forgotten how to take care of people ...” (BURLINGTON)

“… we are missing 5 beds. It’s in the chronic wing that they are closing. It doesn’t seem right in a community like this that is expanding so much, they are cutting down beds.” (MILTON)

“… inmates from Maplehurst. They have to have 2 guards for each person 24 hours a day. That’s expensive. Besides they are using a local bed. I think they should get their medical attention at Maplehurst.” (MILTON)

Inconsistent service provision from LHIN to LHIN created challenges and confusion for Burlington seniors.

“… as a service provider, (what) I find a little bit hard is Burlington is part of Halton but it falls under a different LHIN … there are services being provided in Oakville that Burlington clients can’t access ...” (BURLINGTON)

“… every CCAC and every LHIN is a little bit different ... one place you live gets service and one other place you don’t get the service” (MILTON)

“Alzheimer’s ... Peel and Halton and if you live in Burlington you belong to the Halton group but the people in Oakville belong to Peel. It’s Halton County.” (BURLINGTON)

“... My wife was in Oakville … when I wanted to transfer her to Burlington. I had to deal with CCAC in Mississauga because they had to do their assessment because my wife was in their area and the Burlington CCAC could not go to Oakville and vice versa …” (BURLINGTON)

Health transitions are very difficult for some seniors - some consider choosing a time to die.

“I don’t have a plan, other than to drop dead where I live.” (BURLINGTON)

“… What do you worry the most about? And the answer by 95 per cent of the people was That was their one fear.” (HALTON HILLS)

“…The thing is when you go to someplace like that, everyone around you is so ill that you are not really comfortable there. I think we should have a little purple pill when we have to go somewhere ... I know people 96, 97 years old who don’t want to wake up in the morning because they can’t do the things that they want to do and they ache all over. It would be nice to be able to choose when you don’t have to do it all over tomorrow. I don’t know why everybody is so frightened about it if the person has the pill themselves.” (HALTON HILLS)

“… my wife, she said ‘if it comes to a point where you can’t look after me. Don’t put me
in a home. You do something with me.’ I said ‘yes. Ok. I will do something to you but then I go to jail for the rest of my life. It’s not going to work.’ ” (OAKVILLE)