- by Kathy Barratt

On April 26, 2022 a very dear friend of mine fell and fractured her shoulder.

She was 85 years old and living on her own in her apartment with full expectations of remaining there for the near future. She has other health related issues but was able to do all her daily activities with help 4 hours a week for housekeeping only.

When she fell an ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital where she was assessed and a sling was put on her arm and she was sent home. She could not care for herself with only one arm. She could not get in and out of a chair, bed, bathroom without assistance. She was told to not take a bath as it was unsafe by the OT (Occupational Therapist) that came in.

The Home and Community Care Support Services South West (formerly the Local Health Integration Network), an Ontario Government funded service, was called and determined she qualified for PSW help but said there were no PSWs available.

Her only family is a sister who is 1 year younger than her who lives in Calgary and a step-daughter in her mid 70’s who lives in Oshawa.
As she is my friend, I came to Owen Sound to help out. I needed to stay with her 24 hours per day in case she needed to get up in the night. Unfortunately I had a time limit that I could stay. Four days after her first fall she fell again even with me there. I had to call the Paramedics to get her back up on her feet as I could not lift her.

I determined that she had good medical coverage from Green Shield. Not so. First of all they will only supplement Ontario Government funded services.
The Home and Community Care Support Services were going to do a long term care application for her (and still are as far as I know) but the present wait list for long term care in Grey Bruce Counties can be 2 to 3 years, so she could not go into this Ontario Government funded place and get additional coverage.

I was told to get PSW service through the Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS). When I explained that they don’t have any PSWs to start with, I was told that I then needed a letter from them stating this. When I contacted the HCCSS they said they have never done this and there are no plans to do so.

I was told by the HCCSS that I would need to look at seeing if I could get her into a retirement home. This is not one of the HCCSS services. I called every retirement home to see if there were beds and what it costs. I finally found one bed. This took several days.

The day I went to see the room at the retirement home I had to have a rapid test before I could go in. Oh dear, I tested positive!!!! I couldn’t go in and I really didn’t want to make things worse for my friend by giving her COVID.
The family doctor advised to take her up to the hospital and tell them my story and leave her there. That is the very hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I kept in touch with emerg. She sat out in the waiting room from 7:30pm and was still there at 10:30pm. I do not know when they finally got her into a bed in emerg. That was on a Wednesday. Thursday she was still in emerg and they told me they can’t admit her as they have no beds. They said they had some people working on things to see if they could find her a place. I asked that they keep me in the loop and to not make any final decision without contacting me first. That way I could get someone to go into her apartment and get the things she might need. I call around 11:30 on Friday and was told she was being sent to a retirement home at 1 pm that day. No heads up from anyone.

She is now settled in the retirement home, but of course in isolation because I tested positive. Retirement homes can cost anywhere from $2500/per month without care to $3500 and upwards with care. I have no idea what will happen when the money runs out. It has been the most upsetting two weeks ever.


  • Apply to Home and Community Care Support Services (phone 310-2222 – no area code) to do a long term care application sooner than later so at least you are on that 2-3 year waiting list. Just remember you have to qualify. That means, you need it now but might be able to hang on for a year or two.
  • Know that you are going to have to do a lot of phone calls with several different agencies before everything is settled.
  • Know that it might cost a lot of money before Long Term Care is available.
  • Know that Health Care isn’t what is used to be.
  • Be prepared to be frustrated.
  • Understand the people you talk to are not the ones at fault. Our doctors and nursed are overworked as are the people at Home and Community Care Support Services and the people in the retirement homes.

This took 11 days from start to finish. Although we really aren’t done as we hope her shoulder will get better and she may get back home or if not that she can find a retirement home that has a nice room and not too expensive. Oh yes, don’t forget she has had no phone or TV during this time. I hope by next week we will have that in place.

Thanks for listening, (please note I am no spring chicken but I think I got it all straight)


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