Senior Care: Choosing Between Public and Private Options

If you look after an aging parent, there may come a time when you can no longer care for them. You may find yourself with less time on your hands after a big promotion at work, or your parent may suffer a decline in health that requires professional care. In either scenario, something needs to change to ensure your mom or dad lives a happy, healthy life. Do you sign up for public assistance or hire private caregivers to help you at home? While public coverage may seem like an obvious choice, it may not be practical for all families. Here are two times when private at home services may make more sense. 

You May Not Qualify for Public Nursing Care

In some places, like Canada, long-term nursing facilities fall under the country’s public health care program. Since health care is a provincial matter in Canada, each province’s health insurance plans include subsidized nursing facilities and community services for citizens and permanent residents. But in other countries, public health insurance is far less comprehensive. Take the U.S. as an example. The federal-state insurance benefit Medicaid covers health care costs but only for low-income people. If you make less than a certain amount each year, Medicaid will pay 100% of your nursing home costs. However, you aren’t eligible for this coverage if you exceed this limit with any income, including wages, benefits, and investments. If you don’t qualify for your local public nursing care, private care may be the only option available to you and your loved ones. Living in a private long-term care facility can be expensive. If you’re worried about how you’ll pay for it all, at-home care services may provide affordable access to care. These services will send a health care professional to your loved one’s home during specific times, so you aren’t paying for assistance a second longer than you need. 

The Wait for Public Nursing Care May Be Too Long

While Canada’s single-payer health care system may offer more coverage than the U.S., it isn’t perfect. Wait times are a considerable challenge for families looking for long-term care facilities. In Ontario, the median wait time for placement in a long-term care home in 2020–2021 was 188 days. However, some people may wait significantly longer for a room, depending on where they live. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the median wait time in 2019 was 223, with the wait times generally longer in Toronto proper. Now three years old, these wait times may worsen with the current nursing shortage affecting hospitals and facilities across the province. Like many families, you may not be able to wait that long until your loved one receives care. If you need immediate nursing or live-in care, you may opt for at-home care in Toronto instead. The best home care Toronto has to offer matches the quality of services provided by the public system. However, it comes with the added benefit of one-on-one care in the comfort of your loved one’s home. 

The Takeaway:

Long wait times and insufficient coverage may take public nursing facilities and care services off the table. Private, at-home care agencies can fill in the gaps left by the public health care system, giving you an alternative way to take care of a senior in need.

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