What Are My Next Steps? Considerations to Assisted Living and Care Options

In the autumn issue of news&views, we explored how to navigate the health-care system when it comes time to think about assisted living facilities or alternate level-of-care options for you or a loved one.

Once you have chosen an appropriate living facility for the person in need, what do you do next? What can you expect? If you have not done so already, it is important to check what government funding may be available. To see what funding options may be accessible and to check if you qualify, please visit alberta.ca/financial-assistance-for-seniors.aspx.

Wait times for facilities can vary. According to Alberta Health Services, in 2019–2020 people waited an average of thirty-five days to be placed in long-term care and eighty days for a supportive-living spot. Unfortunately, Albertans have seen longer than usual wait times during the COVID-19 pandemic, because outbreaks in some homes have resulted in a pause on acceptances of new residents. Once your preferred site becomes available, you generally have forty-eight hours to accept the offer. After you have accepted, things tend to move along rather quickly, which is why it is important to be ready when you have received notification that a spot is available. It can be helpful to have a checklist prepared ahead of time with items that you are planning on bringing.

It is important to check with the facility to confirm if there are required items to bring and if the items you are planning on bringing are permitted. You may also want to check with the facility about costs that the resident will be responsible for. For example, some facilities have cable included in the accommodation fee, while some require the resident to cover this cost should they choose to have that service. Typically, included in the accommodation fee is the room, housekeeping, meals, and building maintenance.

Moving into an assisted living facility can be a difficult transition. Many people miss their own home. However, things can be done to make the new space feel more like home, like decorating the room with their own furniture. Measure the room ahead of time to make sure the furniture will fit into the space. The individual can hang their favourite curtains and bring their own pillow or comforter. Hanging pictures of family and friends on the walls can fill the space with wonderful memories.

For some, material things are not always what makes a place feel like home. Often home is a feeling of connection. Being in a new home is a great way to build new connections and create new friendships. Create a comfortable, safe environment filled with happy memories where the resident can feel comfortable, at home, thrive, and receive the higher level of care they need.

Prior to the move-in date, the facility will likely arrange a meeting with the individual and any loved ones to go over the care plan and review and sign any documents required for the move. The resident will be given a handbook about the facility, lease agreement, and details about what the home has to offer. Recreational support staff will go over what activities the home offers. Popular programs include arts and crafts, exercise classes, and outings to local community attractions and stores. This can also be a good way to meet the other residents. During the pandemic, some visiting rules may have been altered; however, it is strongly encouraged to have family and friends visit whenever possible.

Moving to continuing care can be a big transition for everyone involved. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can ease some worry and anxiety. There are many resources out there to help you. HumanaCare’s ARTACares Nurse Care Specialists are always available to answer any questions you have or help you navigate the system and find out what resources are available to you.

ARTACares is included at no additional cost with all ARTA Benefit Plans and 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.