When it’s Time to Start Thinking About Assisted Living, Where Do I Begin?

When it comes time to discuss assisted living options for you or a loved one, navigating the health-care system can feel like an overwhelming task. Recognizing it is time to transition to a higher level of care is essential for the quality of life and health for all involved. It is a good idea to have a plan in place well in advance, in order to avoid panicking at the last minute to find a home after an illness or a hospital visit. Being prepared will aid in this new life transition.

So where do you start? The first step is to get a case manager through Alberta Health Services. When you are ready to begin your journey, call Health Link at 811 to arrange for an assessment by an Alberta Health Services health professional. You can refer yourself, or you can be referred if you meet the eligibility requirements. The requirements include residing in Alberta, having an Alberta Personal Health Card number or having applied for one, and being eligible to receive Alberta health insurance coverage.

The province of Alberta is divided into five geographical zones: North, Edmonton, Central, Calgary, and South. The zone you are in is based on where you live. If you are unsure of which zone applies to you, the case manager will help determine this. The assigned case manager will go through a standard assessment. This assessment collects information on a wide range of mental, physical, and social abilities. Once the assessment is complete, the case manager will discuss the results with you or your loved one to determine the level of care that will best suit the individual’s needs.

When choosing a home that best suits an individual’s needs, there are a number of things to take into account. Some considerations may include location, religious preferences, available social supports, wait times, and costs. Before making a final decision, it is beneficial to visit several facilities that provide the type of care needed. By taking a tour, you can get a better feel for the environment, the services that are offered, the surroundings and the people who work and live there. It will also give the opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have.

Once you have determined a couple of home options that suit your needs and preferences, the case manager will put you on the waitlist for these homes. If the site has availability, you will be offered a position based on the waitlist prioritization criteria. If your preferred locations do not have space available, you may be offered a temporary option to meet your current needs. Accepting a temporary option does not affect your spot on the waitlist. When your preferred location becomes available, the case manager will help make a smooth transition into the new home.

The two main levels of care facilities are nursing homes and assisted living. Assisted living is best suited for those who are semi-independent. These homes offer twenty-four-hour emergency response, and a wide range of recreational and social activities. They are designed for seniors who could benefit from a more socially engaging environment and need limited supervision and care. Nursing homes are best suited for those who cannot live independently, requiring a more extensive level of care and supervision. Nursing care is available twenty-four hours a day. Residents can receive help with activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, using the bathroom, taking medication, eating, and mobility.

What does an alternative level of care cost? The Alberta government sets the maximum accommodation charge for supportive living and long-term care. As of June 1, 2021, these charges range from $1,754 for a standard room to $2,132 for a private room.

Thinking about care options for yourself or for your loved one can be stressful. The more prepared you are when the time comes, the more confident you will be that you made the right choice in this next chapter of life. It is important to recognize that you are making the best decision for the health and safety of all involved.

ARTACares is provided by HumanaCare, an Alberta-based health and wellness provider with more than thirty-five years of Canadian health care experience. For more information on health and wellness topics, webinars, and articles, visit your eldercare portal.