This month, we chatted with Home Care Assistance Montreal founders and father-son team Tim Thomas, and Timothy Thomas, to demystify home care funding, and take some of the complexity out of the process:
What surprises people the most about financing care services for seniors?
Tim: There are a lot of misconceptions around just how much public support is available to us as we age. That tends to catch people off guard. Family care can often be supplemented by the CLSC. But the scope of those government-provided services is limited. We’ve seen some real momentum on that front, with the government redoubling their investments in home care services in recent months and years. That will definitely expand on what the CLSC provides. In the meantime, the most important piece of the funding puzzle is to have a plan, and start thinking about it early. You don’t want to be exploring what’s available, and the costs, when someone needs home care. Those are conversations families should be having proactively. Start assessing the kind of care options available (from family to government to private) and get a clear idea of what’s covered, what’s not, and what your budget looks like. Asking good questions and doing the research early can help ensure you’ve got a solution that doesn’t just work for the people involved, but also for your bottom line.
By the numbers, what should families keep in mind when they’re deciding on care solutions for a loved one?
Timothy: There are a lot of different ways to get the right mix of home care services in place. Some families like to share caregiving duties among relatives, or hire a private employee themselves. Others rely on government services, or a team of caregivers like we provide. You might find that a mix of those options works best for your loved one. However you build out the care ecosystem, it’s important to keep the financial implications in mind. If family members are going to take on some of the caregiving themselves, be sure to apply for the host of provincial and federal tax credits that exist. Any family that hires a private caregiver directly should remember that equates to taking on an employee. You’ll be responsible for paying them, navigating tax considerations, following local employment laws, and thinking about the added risk that uninsured workers can bring. If someone hurts themselves on the job or falls ill, a family might be liable. Good agencies take that burden off the family’s plate, and tackle the ins and outs of salaries, taxes, safety standards and insurance for you. That can be one less thing to think about as you aim to enable a loved one to age well at home.
How can you make sure you’re getting what you pay for?
Tim: Transparency is key. However you decide to support a senior’s home care needs, you should have clear line of sight into what the caregiver is providing, how it’s going, and what they’re investing in the process. At Home Care Assistance Montreal, we’ve built formal and informal ways of keeping families updated on exactly what we’re providing and—this is huge—how it’s working for their loved one. Our care managers are focused on sharing information and updates to make sure families feel completely confident in the care they’re receiving. If we’re using games to provide cognitive therapeutics, or organizing a walk through a museum for a senior who has always loved art, you’re going to hear about it from us. During the pandemic, we’ve used daily email updates and virtual touchpoints to answer questions and share a lot of information with family members who live out of town, or can’t see their loved one because of quarantine. We understand the duty of care our clients place in us, and we live up to it by providing fulsome insight every step of the way. To me, that should be table stakes for any caregiver or care provider today. You need to know that someone is getting everything they need on a daily basis. That’s so important.
Never assume what kind of funding and support will be provided as someone ages. Start the conversation early. Ask your loved one’s doctor for guidance. Consult your local CLSC for information on services offered. Explore which private home care teams serve your area. Discuss budgeting as a family so you can make sound decisions. Whatever option you choose, make sure you’re clear on the tax implications and credits available to you.