Understanding Senior Care Services

Be empowered by knowing what your senior care service options are.

Lorien Bellamy, founder Active Caregiving Inc

Caring for an aging parent is indeed a significant responsibility, understanding the numerous senior care services available to you can be confusing as there are housing, community, and home care options to sift through, some of which can overlap, and some may not. Whether you are a seasoned caregiver, or recently taking on the task, here is a simple guide which clarifies what specific senior care services are, how you can access them, and how they may be distinguished from one another.

Here’s our guide to help you navigate senior services in your community.

First Steps: Contacting Home and Community Support Services (HCC)

Your initial step should be contacting your local Home and Community Support Services (HCCSS). This senior care service is free and does not require a physician referral. HCCSS, formerly known as the Local Health Integration Network, is a provincial program that provides Care Coordinators to eligible OHIP carriers. These coordinators assist in creating care plans and accessing eligibility for both government-funded and private health and community services.

Services You May Access Through HCCSS

The senior care services provided through HCCSS include:

  • Nursing
  • Personal support (bathing, dressing, etc.)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech-language therapy
  • Medical supplies and equipment (some fees may apply)
  • Long-term care placement
  • Social work
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Other specialized programs and nursing services as needed (healthcare at home.ca)

For more details, visit Healthcare at Home.

Alzheimer’s Society

The Alzheimer’s Society is a non-profit organization offering community resources for people with Alzheimer’s and their families. This senior care service is free and does not require a referral.

MedicAlert Safe&Found

If your loved exhibits wandering behaviours and are at risk of becoming lost, you can register them in the Medic Alert Safe and Found Wandering Registry. This national database provides first responders with identifying information and specified escalation strategies. Apply online here.

Public Vs. Private Home Care Services:

Private 1:1 caregiver that offers support with daily living as often as needed

Public Services:

  • Fully funded or subsidized by the Ontario government.
  • Include all services listed under HCCSS.
  • Accessible through your HCC Care Coordinator, who will assess your eligibility.
  • Hours and schedule provided based on need and PSW schedule.
  • Must not be living in Long Term Care.

Private Services:

  • Can be accessed by anyone without an HCCSS or physician referral.
  • Fee for service, HST exemption, insurance plan coverage.
  • Often used concurrently with publicly funded services.
  • Home care and recreational supports.
  • Hours and schedule are made by the client.
  • Client can reside in community or residence.

Seniors Day Program:

Social Recreational Program offered in a senior friendly safe and secured environment that offers activities and meals by senior care professionals. It is a place where a senior can go and spend the day.

Publicly Funded Programs (via HCCSS Coordinator):

  • Requires referral through HCC Care Coordinator.
  • $20/day average fee.
  • Waitlist of 1-8 months.
  • Regulated by the Community Care Ministry.

Privately Run Programs:

  • No referral required.
  • $75/day average fees.
  • No waitlist.
  • No maximum service limit.
  • Regulated by Public Health.
  • Contact us for Private Day Program options.

Long Term Care & Retirement Living

Retirement Homes:

  • No HCC referral required.
  • Higher fees than Long Term Care.
  • Cater to individuals with some level of independence.

Long Term Care:

  • Government-funded housing program offering subsidized rooms.
  • Provides 24/7 nursing care.
  • Must go through an HCCSS Care Coordinator to join the waitlist (typically placed on at least three waitlists).


Focuses on providing the caregiver relief by offering short term relief from their caregiving duties. The client can stay overnight for a few nights, or a few hours.

Connect and Get Support

Understanding these senior care services can help you make informed decisions about the care and support available for your aging parent. Reach out to us if you have any questions and we’re happy to help you on your caregiving journey!

  • Lorien Bellamy, founder Active Caregiving Inc.