Home, Community and Residential Care Services

Finding a Provider

In many situations, you will need to select a provider that offers the care you are looking for. Read this section to find out how you can select the provider(s) that is right for you.

Although providers will differ in the way they operate and provide services, there are three common steps to selecting a provider:

Identify possible providers

Start by obtaining a list of care providers for the type of care you require. You can start this process by contacting your local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), as the CCAC staff are familiar with providers in the area.

You can also look in your local yellow pages under categories such as health care services, nurses, homemaker services, etc.

Other key sources of information for locating providers include :

For links to these, see the Links and Resources page.

Compare and evaluate providers

Once you have this list, you can begin to do more research that will help you to gather more information about specific providers and narrow down your selection.
Some of the key questions to consider are:

  • Ability to respond to your care needs: Does the provider offer the type and level of services that you require?
  • Eligibility Criteria: What is the match between your care needs and personal situation and the eligibility criteria for service from this provider?
  • Availability: What is the length of the waiting time for service from this provider?
  • Reputation: What do other people have to say about this service provider?
  • Cost: What is the exact cost of the care? Are the fees standardized? Are there additional services or amenities that also can have a cost?

For tools to help you reflect on the things that are important to you, or to prompt you to ask questions about a particular provider, you can print out a checklist that applies to the type of provider you are seeking:

Also, if you want to gather some personal insights about a particular provider, there are several ways to find out more, including :

  • Meeting with a staff representative
  • Touring a residential care setting
  • Talking with former clients, residents and/or caregivers

By this point, you have probably gathered a considerable amount of information and are ready to shorten your list. You may already have a clear sense of which provider is right for you or you may be trying to decide between two or three providers.

In this case, comparing providers is an important step. Criteria you might consider could be things like location, the availability of specialized programs, or lifestyle options (e.g. smoking policy). Most people consider the quality of care to be a very important consideration.

Quality of Care

While there is no foolproof way to measure quality of care, there are some key things to consider. As you explore whether a provider can provide the care you are looking for, a key resource can be the opinions of people who have already received services from the provider. Other important resources are the ratings by an independent organization. If you want to do further research about the performance of a particular provider, it can be helpful to know whether the service is monitored by an outside organization such as the government or a provincial association.

Here are some questions to ask as you look for indications of the quality of care:

  • Is the provider accredited by an accrediting agency? The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) recognizes two agencies: Accreditation Canada and the international alternative, CARF International.
  • Is the provider accredited by another accrediting body? Find out more about Accreditation of Retirement Homes or International Organization for Standardization
  • Is the provider an approved member of a provincial association? See a listing of provincial associations.
  • Can the provider give you consumer or family references?
  • Does the provider have results of a consumer satisfaction survey?
Decide on a provider

As you go through the research and comparing process, you will see the variations in the ways providers operate. Before you make your decision, be sure that you are satisfied with the information you have obtained about the provider. Take the time to review and reflect upon the information you have gathered and talk it over with people who know you well.

Remember, as you make your decision, you can talk with the staff at the CCAC to answer questions you may have. Also remember that family, friends and health professionals can also help you in your deliberations.

Accreditation Canada

Accreditation is an effective, internationally recognized evaluation process used by many countries worldwide to assess quality in health care.

Providers can voluntarily seek accreditation through Accreditation Canada, an independent, non-government organization. Organizations achieve accreditation by undergoing an objective evaluation of the care and services they provide to clients, and then comparing these findings against a set of national standards that have been developed through testing and consultation. The findings of the survey visit are summarized in an accreditation report. The report identifies the provider's strengths and weaknesses and recommends key areas for improvement. Accreditation lasts for four years and, depending on the rating the organization is given, the organization may need to do some follow-up during that period.

Only accredited providers can display the Accreditation Canada seal. Here are some ways to find out if a provider is accredited.

  • Look for a framed Accreditation Canada certificate and seal inside the home.
  • Look for the seal or mention of Accreditation Canada in promotional materials.
  • Locate a listing of accredited providers by visiting the Accreditation Canada web site. 

Retirement Home Accreditation

Accreditation Canada accredits retirement homes, as does the Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA). ORCA is a provincial association that sets standards, inspects and accredits retirement homes in Ontario.

There are several hundred retirement homes that meet the ORCA standards and are affiliated with the association. Their website offers the feature of searching for the accredited members by region. Or, you can call ORCA at 1-800-361-7254 to request a printed directory of their accredited retirement homes, free of charge.

Only accredited providers can display the ORCA logo. Here are some ways to find out whether a provider is accredited:

  • Look for a framed ORCA certificate and logo inside the building.
  • Locate a listing of accredited organizations by visiting the ORCA web site and click on "Find a retirement home".

International Organization for Standardization Accreditation

Some home health care provider organizations have chosen to seek accreditation from ISO 9001. This International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a non-governmental organization established in 1947 and designed to set world-wide standards in the delivery of goods and services.

Organizations that have met the standards for delivering a service or product will receive a certificate with a number designation (e.g. ISO 9000 or ISO 10006). Each number refers to a different type of standard.

ISO 9001/2000 refers to the requirements for Quality Management Systems and is the one that is most likely sought by care providers. It is used to assess the applicant's ability to meet customer requirements thereby addressing customer satisfaction. To find out whether a provider is ISO certified, look for references to this accreditation in a framed certificate or within promotional materials.

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