Help at Home: Reources to Assist Family Caregivers

By Barbara Small

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Various resources exist in your community to help alleviate the demands placed on family caregivers, reduce caregiver burnout and allow the person being cared for to remain at home longer.

The types of services vary dependent on the community, and the costs range from free to a fee-for-service. Below is a list of some of these services:

Home support (community health workers) can provide assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, hygiene and toileting. Subsidized home support is available through local health authorities and is based on the income of the care recipient. Private home support agencies also provide these services on a fee-for-service basis.


Medical Equipment and Aids

A variety of aids and equipment are available for purchase or loan to help individuals with communication, mobility or specific personal care needs. These include medical equipment, incontinence supplies, specialized clothing, mobility aids, vision aids and hospital beds. Community loan cupboards may exist from which you can borrow medical equipment. These services charge either a small fee, operate by donation or are free. You can also contact your local Canadian Red Cross. Several businesses focus solely on selling medical aids and equipment, such as local pharmacy chains that operate specialized Home Health Care outlets or you could try ordering products via a medical supply website.

Volunteer organizations may provide home visitors, walking companions and volunteers to assist with odd jobs, gardening, reading, letter writing and driving to appointments or shopping.


Meal programs

Some seniors’ centres and residential care facilities provide meals to seniors on a drop-in basis. Meals on Wheels and some catering businesses deliver prepared meals to your home. These businesses may offer senior’s discounts and cater to special diets.


Grocery delivery services

Volunteer-based services exist to assist with grocery shopping. Customers can place grocery orders by telephone or online. The grocery service selects the items and makes a home delivery. The delivery service often is free for grocery orders above a minimum amount. Check with your local grocery store.

House cleaning services are a very useful resource for family caregivers. Some house cleaning companies will provide additional services, including laundry, moving furniture, taking out garbage and doing garden work. Rates and senior’s discounts, for these companies, vary significantly. Private home support agencies may also offer some of these services.

Emergency response and medical alarm/alert systems are 24-hours-a-day/seven-days-a-week monitoring services for frail elders and people with disabilities. The system typically hooks into a person's phone system. Installation costs vary from company to company, as do monthly monitoring fees. Some systems can also provide automatic medication reminders.

Other support services may be available in your community to provide help in the home and improve the quality of life for both the family caregiver and the care recipient. For resources, check your local Yellow Pages, contact the Home and Community Care division of your regional health authority, visit the senior’s centre in your community or look under “Resources” on the Family Caregivers’ Network’s website at



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