After the terrible outbreaks of Coronavirus in long term care facilities,  many people are stating resolutely that they want to stay living at home instead of moving to a CHSLD when the time comes.

If this is something you are considering, it is important to look around the house today.  You need to prepare the home for yourself and your home care workers.

Generally home care starts when the client is still well enough to get around but needs a few hours a day of assistance.  Gradually, over months and years, the need for care hours increases until finally the caregivers are there 24 hours per day.

Based on an experience we have had recently, I would like to share some suggestions for getting the home ready so that the client is safe and the home caregivers can deliver their services properly and comfortably.

The Worn Doorstep has recently taken care of an elderly bachelor who had no one in Montreal to rely on. This lovely gentleman was diagnosed with cancer and decided to stay at home and wait for the end to come.

The conditions in which he lived were not ideal.

His house was built in the 1930’s and had never been renovated.  This is not a criticism, it is just a comment.  We therefore had to work our way around quite an old-fashioned set of circumstances.

Books, newspapers and paintings were piled and leaning everywhere.  This retired professor basically let things go and the home was in need of a big tidy up, which unfortunately, he would not allow.  For reasons including personal safety and fire hazards, halls and doorways should always be clear and tidy in case of emergency.

Stairs can be a barrier to getting anywhere if the client has lost the physical ability to go up and down them.  There are mechanical seats which attach to the wall via a railing and convey people up and down the stairs.   This is something to consider if you live in a multi-level home and want access.  Home elevators are also available.  They have a small footprint and are not prohibitive in price.  Governments often assist with the payment of these items for seniors.

Home Elevators

Hardwood floors which have sills, or dividers at every door, provide an obstacle for walkers and wheelchairs.

Hard Wood Floor

A sill on the hardwood floor between rooms presents an obstacle for a walker or wheelchair

Lighting can be a huge issue in older homes.  Bad lighting can lead to falls.  It is essential for the safety of all that the home be well lit.

In the kitchen, all the equipment necessary to prepare the client’s food must be in good working order.  A fridge, stove and oven, and a microwave are a must.

As the caregivers will be doing the client’s laundry, an up-to-date washer and dryer are necessary in order to get the job done.

Wringer Washer

This woman is fond of her old wringer washer but it would not be appropriate for the needs of today’s home caregivers

The CLSC will offer raised toilet seats and grab bars for the tub and bathroom.

A TV is not essential, but it is often handy when it comes to engaging the client whose faculties may be diminishing.  There are wonderful nature shows on PBS, National Geographic and other channels which can keep a person interested.  A wireless router is essential due to the fact that the caregivers keep in touch with the office via their smartphones.  Most homes have wireless now but there are some elderly folks who never got connected and see no need to do so now.

Our dear professor finally agreed to go to the hospital for his last five days of life.  What I learned from taking care of him is that preparing the home in advance can give one peace of mind.  Upgrades or changes need not be expensive – an Accountant will be able to advise on any government programmes and tax credits available.  And they can make all the difference to your comfort and safety when you do decide to stay at home.