By Mary-Ellen Harris, RN
Caring for someone at home who requires help with bathing, dressing, eating, transferring, and toileting can be overwhelming. Coping with a cognitive deficit, such as memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer disease, increases the demands on the caregiver exponentially.
Recognizing that you need help is not a sign of weakness or failure. Long-term care (LTC) and respite care can provide peace of mind to you while ensuring the safety and improving the quality of life for your loved one.
LTC provides 24-hour nursing care, including direct supervision to ensure safety. It also provides laundry, dietary, housekeeping, recreation, restorative, and rehabilitation services. This multidisciplinary approach helps meet the person’s physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
Respite supports caregivers by providing relief from their caregiver responsibilities for a set period of time. Respite beds help prevent caregiver burnout and can also ease the transition to LTC.
To prepare for LTC placement, contact the CCAC (Continuing Care Access Centre) for Champlain Region at 613-745-8124. More information is available at
Consultation with a placement coordinator or case manager is required to start the process. The CCAC will help caregivers complete the necessary paperwork. These documents must also be completed if you are considering the use of respite beds in a LTC home while awaiting placement.
CCAC manages the waiting lists for LTC and respite beds. Many LTC home waiting lists are more than two years long. Respite beds can be booked for one to four weeks and are booked well in advance in many cases. Cancellation lists are kept for respite beds. Arrange for a tour of the facilities you are considering and only list those you are comfortable with. Information about all Ontario LTC homes is available at www.health.gov.on.ca.
If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer disease, contact the Alzheimer Society and its First Links program to discuss respite. The Society provides day-away programs for those with dementia or Alzheimer Disease. Call 613-264-0307 or 1-800-511-1911, email
Mary-Ellen Harris is Assistant Director of Care at Fairview Manor.