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Navigating eldercare: Is long-term care or in-home care the best choice?


The healthcare system can be confusing – especially when it comes to continued care. Making the decision to apply for either long-term or in-home care for yourself or a loved one can involve quite a bit of planning, so it helps to be prepared so you don’t get stuck in an emergency situation, says Gaye Moffett, CEO of GEM Health Care Services.

GEM provides homecare and home support services to eligible patients in the Ottawa area, and has helped several clients navigate through the continued care system.

“We’re a family run business who connects clients with personal support workers, registered practical nurses and companion services from trusted caregivers,” she says. “With decades of experience our team has the knowledge to help people understand their needs and plan accordingly for the future.”

Here are some tips from GEM to help you navigate the extended care system:

Find an advocate – or be one yourself 

If you’ve been told by a doctor that your loved one will soon require either long-term or homecare to meet their daily needs, it’s important to start doing your research immediately. The first decision to make is whether long-term care or homecare is the best decision for your situation – which isn’t always easy.

Ask your loved one for their opinion, as they might not want to leave the comfort of their home. If you’re planning yourself, make the decision now and choose a Power of Attorney for Health that will be able to advocate for you when the time comes. Also choose a PoA for Property to look after your finances. Your lawyer who makes your will can help with theses arrangements.

“Make your wishes known,” says Moffett. “If you’re suddenly unable to speak for yourself, someone will have to speak for you.”

In Ottawa, there are also a high number of federal government employees that have private nursing included in their benefit plan, so before embarking on a continued care journey, check to see if some of the services are covered by your employer.  

Do your homework

Local applications to long-term care homes are controlled by Home and Community Care Support Services Champlain, which covers a vast geographical area including Cornwall, Pembroke and the area along the Ottawa River.

Waiting lists for long-term care homes can take years and applicants can be asked to make a decision about an available bed within 24 hours of their notification, which means you need to be prepared, says Moffett. 

“Make phone calls, go on tours and choose your top three homes,” she says. “It can make the decision process a lot easier.”

Although long-term care is paid for by the government, typically rent for the unit is not, with prices ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 a month.  

Public homecare is also paid for by the government, but that too has its limitations. 

“The maximum you can get covered is 20 hours a week,” says Moffett. “Unfortunately, wanting to stay at home with care usually requires more than 20 hours a week.”

GEM offers the ability to supplement government care with its services to meet the number of hours needed by a patient, allowing clients to access care quicker.

“In doing that, our services are also deemed HST exempt and that saves the person an additional 13 per cent,” she adds.

Make sure you’re getting a professional

If you’re applying for homecare, it’s important to also ask for rates and the types of services available. 

Companies can say they offer quality services and PSW care, but it’s imperative you confirm that you are working with licensed professionals. 

“You want to protect the worker too,” says Gavin Schnobb, chief operations officer at GEM.  “These workers are highly vulnerable right now. If you’re hiring someone off of Kijiji, they don’t have sick leave, they don’t have EI, WSIB, etc. You want to make sure you choose a company that has the back of their employee.”

Whether you’re looking for wound care nurses, physiotherapists, PSWs, foot care nurses or have questions about extended care, the team at GEM are ready to help.

To find out more about GEM’s homecare services, visit or call 613-761-7474 at any time to speak to a representative.

PCR COVID testing is now available 

Due to an increase in demand, GEM is now offering PCR tests to businesses and groups in the Ottawa area as well as those individuals who require a PCR test for travel. 
“We can get you in quickly that day and get you your results in 10 minutes,” says Moffett. Upon a negative test result, GEM will give you a form to use at the airport and customs.