Bridging the gap between home and supportive living: Information for those seeking a higher level of support than the home can offer.
What are the other types of supportive living options available to seniors?
For many seniors there comes a time when living at home may not be an option due to increasing health concerns and needs. As well, some seniors may also choose to downsize and move to a residence that offers increased safety and assistance. Within Alberta, there are a number of facilities, public, non-profit and private or that offer a variety of living options to seniors.
For seniors in need of more health based supports and services than are offered through in home care Alberta has an array of supportive living options. Amongst these are group homes which accommodate and support 4-10 individuals and assistive living sites/facilities which provides accommodation and services to 10 or more persons in need of supports. Supportive living structures differ greatly in terms of what level and kind of supports are offered. As there are many options available at different price points, it is best to shop around to find supportive living that suits your seniors individual needs and values. Learn more at http://standardsandlicensing.alberta.ca/glossary.html
Supportive Living facilities are required by law to have a license from the Supportive Living Accommodation Licensing Act and may receive public funding, private funding or a combination of both in order to run. Some are public, some private and some are non-profit based facilities. They are also regulated by the Continuing Care Health Service Standards if they provide care services to their residents. For more information, please visit the Alberta Seniors Communities and Housing Association at www.ascha.com or http://standardsandlicensing.alberta.ca/glossary.html
Within the Provincial Continuing Care System, there are four levels of Supportive Living. As the level increases in number so too does the level of care and health-care services offered. To access this information from AHS please visit the following link: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page13331.aspx
Seniors’ Self-Contained Housing Program:
There are a number of seniors who are independent and are able to function well on their own or while receiving some services in the community. Seniors with low to moderate annual incomes may find it difficult to find affordable and appropriate housing or accommodation. To assist seniors facing such circumstances the province has developed the Senior Self Contained Housing Program. Through this program, eligible seniors can live in government subsidized apartments, many of which are owned by the province, and pay a monthly rent of no more than 30% of their household adjusted income. This covers the accommodation, heat, water and sewage. All other services are paid for directly by the senior such as electricity, telephone, TV/cable and other. These apartments accommodations are managed by local housing operators, and they are able to select which seniors can live on the premises. For more information, please call (780) 422-0122 or visit http://seniors.alberta.ca/housing/
Supportive Level 1 Living Options
Supportive level 1 (SL1) living options consist mainly of privately operated facilities or residences such as apartments/condos with assisted living and retirement senior communities. SL1 residences or facilities are best-suited seniors to who are still quite independent but who want or need some additional assistance and safety to function optimally. These types of facilities:
- Can be accessed by any senior, including those already receiving provincial home care (AHS continuing care services)
- Seniors are charged by the private operator for accommodation, security, and maintenance of the surrounding grounds
- Seniors are expected to provide for their own furnishings, medications, medical and personal supplies or equipment
- If they want further services such as light meals or housekeeping, they are charged an additional amount
- Residents receiving home care are able to access it on a scheduled basis
Supportive level 2 living options
Seniors having needs beyond those provided by SL1 facilities/residents can opt to live in Senior Lodges. Senior Lodges are considered to be a Supportive level 2 (SL2) living option and are governed by provincial legislation regarding how much they can charge seniors for accommodation. These facilities are similar to SL1 facilities in terms of expectations and services (including scheduled home care) except here seniors receive a private room/suite, meals, and maintenance. They also have access to 24 non-medical staff.
- These services are included in their monthly rent.
- As is SL1 facilities, SL2 facilities provide extra services such as housekeeping and recreational activities for an additional fee.
- Senior Lodges are suited to fairly independent seniors who are able to move around without much assistance.
- Seniors can access this assisted living option whether or not they are in AHS continuing care system.
Senior Lodges are a viable option for moderate to low income seniors in that they are charged for accommodation in such a way that allows them to retain at least $315 per month for personal use. Learn more here: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page13337.aspx
Designated Supportive Living Options:
Seniors within the public continuing care system (AHS) who need Designated Supportive Living are placed in facilities that best meet their current health status and needs as determined by provincial criteria. This is done through their Case Manager and an assessment of an individual’s current un-met health needs. These facilities are known as Designated Supportive Living levels (SL3, SL4, or SL4D with dementia). Seniors placed in these types of facilities have more complicated medical/health conditions and needs. A private operator and AHS work cooperatively as partners to run these facilities, as such these facilities receive funding from AHS. SL3, SL4 and SL4D facilities have similar expectations and services as SL1 and SL2 facilities except that they provide a higher level of service.
- Seniors have access to accommodation, meals and on-site services such as personal hygiene and medication assistance.
- They have 24 hour scheduled and unscheduled care services delivered by health care aides.
- SL4 and SL4D senior residents also have access to an LPN (Licensed practical nurse and health-care aides to tend to their unscheduled health care needs and support).
Follow this link: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page13338.aspx for more information.
Long term Care Options:
Seniors with the highest medical and health care needs are placed in Long-term care facilities. According to AHS, these facilities are available for individuals with complex and unpredictable, health needs. Accommodation and meals are included and 24-hour on-site professional nursing care. Most medications and health care supplies are paid for by AHS. These facilities are called nursing homes and have a more hospital-like setting.(AHS, 2016) For more information regarding long-term care, please visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page13339.aspx
In designated supportive living and long-term care, accommodation charges may be fully or partly covered for residents who are eligible for the Alberta Seniors Benefit or clients of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH). Learn more here: http://www.health.alberta.ca/services/continuing-care-accomodation-charges.html
Seniors who live in designated Supportive living options/facilities or Long term care facilities, who do not receive the Alberta Senior Benefit or AISH, are expected to pay between $1,601-1,950 per month for accommodation. For more information regarding accommodation rates, please visit the link above.
How do seniors access Designated Supportive Living levels SL3, SL4, and SL4D and Long-term Care?
When a senior is found to be in need of Designated Supportive Living, their assigned Case Manager discusses the best facility/site options with the senior and family. Learn more by by reading more at http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/cc/Page13330.aspx#designated and at https://extranet.ahsnet.ca/teams/policydocuments/1/clp-access-designated-living-option-continuing-care-hcs-117-policy.pdf
The senior and family are then asked to indicate three preferred sites they wish to be placed in that meets their current assessed needs. The first choice is their most preferred site followed by their second preferred and third preferred choice.
If there are no spaces currently available at the seniors most preferred site, then AHS tries to place the senior in the second or third preferred site, and the senior is then put on a wait-list for placement at their most preferred site. If there are no spaces open in either the second or third preferred sites, then AHS places the senior in another facility that best meets their current assessed need on a temporary basis until a spot in one of their preferred sites is available. To recap then, if a senior is placed in a facility other than their most preferred site it is considered a temporary placement and they are wait-listed by AHS. They continue to remain on the wait-list until their most preferred site becomes available.
Individuals on the wait-list are prioritized according to specific provincial criteria. Dependent on whether or not their most preferred site becomes available, seniors can remain on the wait-list for an in-determinant amount of time. Some seniors, therefore, can endure multiple moves over a long span of time until reaching their most preferred facility.
It is important to note that if a senior declines to move to an alternate facility or site other than their preferred sites on a temporary basis, then they are given the following options. First AHS will provide another alternative site for the senior to be placed on a temporary basis. If this offer is then declined then, the senior is asked to find private care that meets their needs or “[return] home if safe to do so with purchased care and or family support.” (AHS, Policy Level 1 Suite, 2015) Download the PDF: https://extranet.ahsnet.ca/teams/policydocuments/1/clp-access-designated-living-option-continuing-care-hcs-117-policy.pdf
While AHS tries it’s best to help seniors through the transition, or transitions to their preferred site, multiple moves can be very stressful for seniors and their families to handle. The strain of moving to a new place, being looked after by new staff and having to continually interact with unfamiliar people can be very anxiety provoking for a senior. Thereby impacting their emotional, physical and overall health. This situation can be likened to that of a child being moved from one place to another repetitively. They have no time to make friends, establish trusting relationships and this, in turn, affects their ability to feel safe and socialize. Such situations also heighten the individual’s sense of vulnerability in social situations.
Until your loved one is placed in the facility of their choice (most preferred site), private home care companies such as Harmony can fill in the gap by providing them with consistent companionship and services delivered by familiar faces which can ease them through these stressful transition periods. As well, they can provide your loved one with services and opportunities that may not be available at their current (temporary)location. If and when your loved one gets access to their preferred location Harmony’s services can be used to augment and complement services received in-facility thereby enhancing and adding more richness to their everyday lives.
The caregiver may be located in a different city or have mobility issues that prevent them from touring facilities, in such cases, we can take the senior around take notes on different places of seniors facilities needs and budget. See how the seniors respond to the environment.
Help finding a place that meets the senior’s needs and budget?
Help with transitions from one facility to another including details involved we at Harmony can help with packing, arrange for movers, arrange for the donation of items, help set up their new place, and continue to provide on-going companionship restoring a sense of stability into their lives.
Disclaimer: The above article is for informational purposes only. Please consult with AHS for more information regarding their services at (780) 496-1300.