Making a Decision: Retirement Home or Home Care Services

The front page of Toronto Star’s Saturday edition had a full page article about Dan Heap, the former Spadina MP who has Alzheimer. Mr. Heap was 5 years in a waiting list for a nursing home while living in a retirement home since 2009 paying $10,000 (!) a month for lodging and care for him and his wife.

(For the full article, Click Here)

In the article, Mr. Heap’s son (Danny) wonders if the family should have paid to build a ramp in Mr. and Mrs. Heap’s apartment and should have hired a home care services company to provide a caregiver to help with meals, bathing and medications.

The article does not provide the reasons behind the final decision of selecting the retirement home option over a home care services provider. However, judging only by the information provided in the article – hiring a home care services company should have been the preferable decision. Simply put, a live-in caregiver does not cost $10,000. Although there is an additional small administration overhead (e.g. employer taxes, mandatory time-off), it is usually taken care by the home care services provider. The family could have saved a considerable amount of money while providing the elderly couple with a personal care and allow them to age at home for few more years. Studies on the subjects showed that
allowing seniors to age at home proved to very beneficial to the person and its family. Moreover, the article states that CCAC is already piloting enhanced care programs to help the frail elderly stay in their homes.

It is very upsetting to read about someone who was considered “A titan of Toronto social justice” and as stated in the article:  “…If this can happen to revered social justice advocates like the Heaps, who have a large and loving family to pitch in and generous pensions to pay for extra help, what hope is there for the rest of us?”.