Introducing Eldercare Planners of Canada

The Eldercare Planners of Canada is a nation-wide network of senior living experts who assist families in need of support, guidance and direction on their eldercare journey.  The network consists of advisors from coast to coast, who provide a variety of services to help seniors and their families make informed decisions and facilitate solutions.

Home to Home is proud to be a member of this network and we’d like to take a moment to showcase the other members across Canada through the group interview questions below.  The network members collectively cover the metropolitan areas of:

-Vancouver, BC        -West Toronto and Hamilton, ON        -Halifax, NS
-Kelowna, BC            -East Toronto, ON
-Calgary, AB            -North Bay,ON
-Edmonton, AB        -Ottawa, ON
-Saskatoon, SK        -Montreal, QC

1. In your view, what has been the biggest way that senior living has changed as a result of the COVID pandemic?

Kathy Mendham, Proactive Seniors (Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna)
Initially, the pandemic made families and seniors more concerned about the risks of congregate living than they might have been before.  However, over the course of the two years of lock downs and isolation, seniors communities discovered that with prudent infection control measures in place, congregate living actually can be a whole lot better for seniors than staying home and being totally isolated.  In a seniors community, they can become their own ‘safe group’ and still have meaningful engagement, socialization and care whereas seniors living alone, at home, could suffer greater negative effects of total isolation and loneliness.

Marie-Claire Chartrand, GreyWave (Halifax)
It seems like a double edge sword. Some folks who were contemplating retirement or assisted living are now more fearful. They are concerned about living in a group setting that might increase their exposure to Covid. They also are concerned that restrictions of visiting may be put in place again.

On the other hand, there are those who found the isolation of being alone in their homes and apartments during Covid was very difficult. It was isolating and getting help and support at home became very difficult. So they see the benefit of being in a place where a lot of the daily things in life are taken care of. They also feel they would be less isolated with living in a place where other folks are living.

Jeanette Bock, Fluid Senior Transitions (West Toronto and Hamilton)
They are more isolated, they gave up their regular routines during the pandemic and many have not returned to the social interactions they had before.

Matt Del Vecchio, Lianas Senior Transition Support (Montreal)
Families and individuals are more concerned than ever about transitioning to a senior living community. We have all heard about the effects of the pandemic on seniors residences especially long term care homes.  As a result, people considering a transition into a senior living community require more guidance and support than ever before.

2. What aspects of retirement housing, in your region or generally, do you think people should know about?

Amy Friesen, Tea & Toast (Ottawa)
It’s important for families to really understand the differences between retirement living and long-term care. Once you can get a firm grasp on the two it makes planning for now and the future a bit easier. Additionally, it’s important for families to realize that moving into a retirement home, although they often have lovely spaces with great services, it is not going to be exactly the same as they were used to in their home. Being open to new experiences often gives seniors a large advantage.

Peg Bocci, Silver Lining Senior Advisors (East Toronto)Every retirement home is different and offers a variety of services. It’s important to understand the level of support in each residence. The goal of choosing a residence is to be able to age in place without having to move again if your needs increase.

Jennifer White, Assisted Advantage (Saskatoon)
It Is important to be aware of the different types of senior housing and know that not all types are the same. I often say, “if you’ve toured one place, you’ve toured one place”. They all have different aspects that will set them apart from the next and this is why it’s important to tour communities and do your research. A trusted advisor can be a valuable asset in the process of a transition and helping you narrow down the most appropriate option for an individual’s unique needs.

3. What advice would you give to someone considering moving to a retirement home in the future?

Darlene Tripp, Hello Darlene (North Bay) Downsize and declutter as much as possible prior to the move so that your new living accommodations can be easy to maintain and the move can be seamless. Take the time to go for lunch, speak with some residents currently residing at the home or attend an activity to get a real feel for what the home is like on a daily basis.

Peg Bocci, Silver Lining Senior Advisors (East Toronto)
Pre-planning. It’s important to have a plan in place before a crisis occurs. While you are still independent, you have control over where you would like to go when the time comes. If you don’t have a plan, you may not have a choice of where you want to live.

Stephanie Chan, Home to Home (Vancouver) Some retirement residences offer a trial stay of anywhere from a few days to a month or even longer.  If there is a retirement residence you’ve been thinking about, pack a small suitcase and give it a try, and pretend you’re on vacation!  You’ll be in a fully furnished suite, and be able to take advantage of all the amenities, activities and meals.  It’s the best way to immerse yourself in the experience and decide if you can see yourself living there.

Matt Del Vecchio, Lianas Senior Transition Support (Montreal)
Do your homework.  Go on tours.  Try a complimentary meal. Ask the tough questions concerning security; continuum of care; pricing; annual lease renewal process; and how to cancel a lease. Inquire about activities, meals, pharmaceutical services, amenities, place of worship, environment and culture.  Is it a good fit?  And perhaps most importantly, consider engaging the services of a senior living and housing advisor.

Visit the Eldercare Planners of Canada’s website to learn more about the group or to reach out to any of the members.