Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Federal Government stop payments by cheque on April 1st, 2016

We just found out some important information that we wanted to share with our readers in Canada….

Did you know…

Starting April 1st, 2016 the federal government will no longer issue physical paper cheques for OAS, CPP & GST/HST opting instead to provide payments in a direct deposit format for all recipients. While it will be easier for people who cannot get to the bank regularly to receive payments in this way, cost is also a factor as it costs in the range of 83 cents per paper cheque vs. 11 cents for a direct deposit.

Currently approximately 90% of all Canadian seniors already receive their pension cheques through direct deposit. The goal is to get the rest ‘on board’ in the next two years.

You do not need a computer or the internet to start receiving your pension payments through direct deposit.  You may obtain the correct forms at your bank or financial institution and once they are processed your funds will be automatically deposited into your bank account on time always. 

Monday, 27 January 2014

Our updated website!

If you are reading this blog, you most likely have seen our new and revised website. If you found us through some other route, please check out our site! As much as we loved our old site, we decided that it needed some updating and a way to make it accessible from any size screen. Since so many of our users have tablet or smartphones, our redesign has incorporated that and now our site is totally accessible and readable on and device! We have some neat icons that make linking to pages as easy as one click. So it’s a cleaner look and far easier to search for what you want. Keep in mind that most homes in Ontario are both online and in our book but we also have homes across Canada which are part of our online community. We also have a collection of Articles, some for all of Canada, other province specific, that are always changing. And we have resources – all kinds of resources, for seniors, families, those in their homes and others in care. If you have some time, play around with our site to see what we have to offer – and do send us feedback at any time at all. We would love to hear from you……..

Friday, 24 January 2014

Thoughts on the Quebec Fire Tragedy - contributed by Martha Rebelo & Esther Goldstein

Shortly after midnight on January 23, 2014, a small town named L'isle-verte in Quebec was struck with a tragedy that will haunt their small community and indeed, all of Canada, for years to come. A building fire started - we don't yet know how - at 'Residence du Havre', a "seniors  home" (it's not quite clear what level of care they were licensed to provide), killing many residents. At the time this is being written, 5 seniors have been identified as deceased and 30 are still unaccounted for - leading one to surmise that they too are no longer with us.

Under provincial regulations, a sprinkler system was apparently not required.

When a tragedy such as this strikes, one is left wondering where the blame lies. How can we ensure that this never happens again? Is it the home's fault for not moving their residents to a higher level of care when they became too sick or disabled to get out of the home without assistance? Should they have had more night staff? Would it even have made a difference? Or is the government at fault, whatever level of government that manages homes like this, for not insisting on sprinkler systems in all homes?

When it comes to 'senior homes' - and we use that term with difficulty because we are not really clear what kind of care, if any, that label denotes - should certain things not be mandatory in every province? Shouldn't sprinkler systems be in all buildings, especially those with people who don't move fast or need assistance?

Unfortunately, in Canada every province is independent when it comes to care for the elderly. There are even different names for different levels of care in the provinces - the one consistent level of care is long-term care or nursing home care but other than that, there is variation in what you call a certain type of home and what is standard practice in them. Regulation for 'retirement level' is not in every province yet (at this point its only in 4 provinces) and it varies from one province to another. This is a vulnerable sector and we, as a collective society need to do a better job of protecting them!

The images of the fire and destruction are painful to see. These people expected to finish their days in a safe environment. It doesn't seem like too great an expectation. They and their families trusted the home they were in to protect them and trusted that the safety standards in place, were good enough to allow that to happen. Regardless of where the blame lies, or who takes the blame - if anyone, nothing will bring back those who are gone, or replace what truly is lost.  

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Our 17th Edition!!!

It’s hard to believe how long I have been doing this. It really feels like it was just yesterday that I came up with the idea for a resource for seniors but the reality is that it was nearly 20 years ago! We have just released our 17th book (a new one comes out every January)! It is a huge undertaking every year but again this year we are absolutely thrilled with the finished product. It is well over 400 pages and filled with super valuable information on retirement homes, long term care homes, resources and all kinds of important information on the process of obtaining care and housing for a senior in Ontario. We feel very fortunate to have wonderful supporters and advertisers who willingly participate in our resource – the book and online version – year after year. Our book circulates to seniors and people who work with them through many different sources and we love getting feedback from all of them! We learn what we have done right and what we need to fix from our users on a regular basis. If you are one of the people that uses our resource, in any form, please feel free to send us an email with feedback and comments. If you are an advertiser or home in our 17th edition – we thank you – for trusting us enough to participate and knowing that we do our very best to produce a product worthy of your support. For those of you who might be new to our resource – we welcome you. If you have questions about our information, do feel free to email us through the contact us button on our website Please keep in mind that homes have access to update their information online at any time through their secure access however the book is compiled once a year so if you are using our printed book, we encourage you to check pricing information with homes directly to ensure you get an accurate picture.

Monday, 20 January 2014

A Social Workers Observations

Working as a hospital social worker, you see many things, not the least of which is incredible sadness. I think there are people, long gone, who will stay with me forever. People who have made lasting impressions with their struggles, their bravery, their support network or lack of it…….so many things. I feel very honoured to have known them and have learned something from every person who has crossed my professional path. I think in my early years as a social worker, I was overwhelmed by the concept of sickness. I used to travel on the bus back and forth to work and wonder, who was sick sitting beside me, who had a miserable family life, a fractured relationship, a life threatening situation that they were yet not aware of. I had to step away from the work, to understand that everyone has their burden, their albatross, but how we deal with it is what has the potential to make or break us. If we allow it to define us, it becomes something that holds us back, and in many cases, drags us down. The trick is learning to live with and accept the things in our life that we cannot change, and making a decision to overcome what we can.  There is no shame in not succeeding, no regret in trying and failing – the shame and regret only come when you don’t even try.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Money Talk - Contributed by Martha Rebelo

Why is it that we let money get the better of us?  How many of us buy something just because it is cheaper or a better price than a similar item we want or need? When I consider how many toasters I have bought, I am reminded of that saying “cheap stuff turns out to be expensive in the end” and I wonder if the same is true when looking at other things like care homes.  Is a higher priced home always better than one that doesn’t cost as much? In reality, homes in large cities often do cost more than homes in smaller centres however, it doesn’t always follow that the care is better or that you get ‘more’ because you pay more. Many retirement communities now have ‘extras’ regardless of where they are located. There are wonderful places all over Ontario and the bottom line cost should not be used to determine if one place is ‘better’ than the other. Potential residents should always go for a tour, try out the food, speak to other residents and even consider staying on a trial basis, before determining if it is a place they want to move to. While finances is an extremely important issue when making a decision of where to move, there are several other factors as well that are really important – consider language, culture, activities, food and most importantly care needs, when making your choices.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Finding a Good Home....

Many years ago I worked as a hospital social worker, often with people who couldn’t go home and needed to find a care setting to relocate to. One of the things I did as part of my job, was visit nursing homes and retirement homes to get an idea of the kind of care that was offered and a sense of the sort of homes our clients were going to. I remember in the early days of my ‘visits’ to such homes, I would know within a matter of 10 minutes, if it was a place I would want someone I knew to go. What can you learn in 10 minutes though, that would give you a sense of if it was a good or a bad place to go to? I found myself trying to figure out exactly what each place did or didn’t do, or was like, that gave me a ‘gut feeling’ about it. After a couple of these visits I realized that I was reacting in a very sensory way to each place. So, for example, I was reacting to smells, to a sense of clean or not clean, to a bright or dull environments, to the way the residents looked and if they seemed engaged and happy, to things I saw on the walls, to staff I saw or didn’t see around……..really so many things that one would not assume would provide so much information in so short a time. When I started doing the annual retirement home book, I used those sensory impressions, to help devise a questionnaire that caregivers can use when they visit homes for their loved ones. I think it helps to narrow choices and enables people to label the reasons for their impressions. Over the years I have added and subtracted – to date we have a 180 point questionnaire that people can download and take with them on these visits. This knowledge of how we can ‘use our senses’ to determine things by simply paying close attention to all of them and the reactions they stir in us, can help in many situations but if you are looking for a handy questionnaire that can help you in your search for a new home for a loved one, have a look at our website and download our visiting tips straight from the site.