Does the CCAC Really Work for You?

22 Apr

If you live in Ontario and are responsible for overseeing the personal affairs of an aging relative, chances are you’re already familiar with the CCAC.

The CCAC received $2 billion from the province in 2012 which amounts to slightly less than 4.6 per cent of Ontario’s total health care spending. It is a centralized body created to connect individuals with health care services, some of which are subsidized and some of which are not.  The acronym stands for Community Care Access Centre.  Although CCAC exists to coordinate health-related services for all Ontarians, almost half of its clients are over 65.

If you were to read the CCAC website, you might think it is a wonderful organization staffed by highly qualified individuals who are committed to making the life of every Ontario citizen that much better.  I’m sure there are some excellent professionals employed by CCAC . I am just not convinced there are enough of them, or enough services, to properly meet the needs of an already increasingly aging population. Additionally, I find it alarming that postings for CCAC case managers ask for only one year of work experience.

If you aren’t familiar with the CCAC and your aging loved one winds up in hospital, you will probably be introduced to a hospital-based case manager before the individual is discharged. Most people who meet the CCAC for the first time in a hospital are stressed, slightly in shock, in need of help navigating the elder care system and feeling some pressure from a hospital social worker to have their family member move on and out of its bed as soon as possible.  Expect the hospital staff to tell you the CCAC will help with everything. But don’t believe what they tell you.

I’ve been dealing with the CCAC on behalf of my mother and my late uncle since 2008. Between them, I have dealt with no less than six case managers. Some of them were helplful; others useless.  Perhaps I am a cynic. But all in all, I get the feeling the CCAC’s mission isn’t so much to connect people with provincially funded services, as it is to restrict the amount of subsidized services any individual can access. Let’s face it, the number of seniors and frail elderly in the province is increasing. The funding to care for them isn’t keeping pace.

If you are already a client or an advocate for a client with the CCAC, I am interested to know what your experience with them has been like so far.  Has the case manager delivered what you had hoped or not?


10 Responses to “Does the CCAC Really Work for You?”

  1. lifeonmylane April 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    That pretty much sums up our experience. Thanks for putting it out there.

    • judila416 April 25, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

      Lifeonmylane: Where in Ontario are you? I don’t know why, but for some crazy reason I thought you were in the U.S..

  2. Heather Stonehouse April 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Having dealt with CCAC over the years on my mother’s behalf, I wholeheartedly agree with your statement that their goal is “to restrict the amount of subsidized services any individual can access.” Like you, I have spoken to some helpful CCAC representatives, one in particular who worked in the background for us to find a spot in a rehabilitation facility after a fracture, when the hospital social worker for some reason didn’t see that as an option. However, when it comes to providing actually CCAC services, we’ve found it impossible to get extra help for even a limited time under extenuating circumstances. Very frustrating and I know they are struggling with increasing demand for scarce resources. But they should give serious thought to being more honest on their website and in their literature. Thank goodness my mother qualified years ago for the few services she has been receiving – I don’t think there’s a chance she’d get on the list now, when her needs are much greater.

    • judila416 April 25, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

      Heather: Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the CCAC. Complete transparency on a website or promotional literature seems highly unlikely. I find your experience with the hospital social worker equally revealing. My experience with the social workers in the hospitals has been that they have a mandate to move patients out as quickly as possible with little regard to what happens post-discharge. But that topic will have to wait for another post.

  3. Kellie Dearman April 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    I have had recent experience with CCAC for Eastern Ontario, and I must say that my case manager was extremely helpful with everything I needed, providing me with access to numerous services that I didn’t know about, and providing personal support to me during times of crisis. She helped me access respite care on numerous occasions, took care to make sure I had full access to VON services (both in home and adult day care) and monitored to make sure that those services were being delivered properly. The CCAC case worker that I met during one early morning trip to Emergency also checked my file and made even more hours of care available to my mom. I am forever grateful for the work they did for me. My experience may be different than those of you who are living in a big city, since there are probably many fewer clients trying to access a limited amount of hours/dollars for services.

    • judila416 April 25, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      Kellie: Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It’s encouraging to learn of a situation in which a government organization is delivering services in the way in which it is intended. You bring up an excellent point regarding how services are likely to vary between larger and smaller centres. While there would definitely be fewer clients in smaller centres, one would think local CCAC budgets would be relative to the population each of them serves. Again, my thanks and I hope you will continue to comment.

  4. sad July 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    That my family’s experience with the CCAC has been “much too little and much too late”, is an understatement.

    My father, who also has dementia, requires long term care and has been hospitalized several times during these past 6 months for falls, a broken hip, aspirated pneumonia and possibly stroke (at this point hard to tell). Twice the family was told by the CCAC that the only option upon discharge was a ‘return to the community’ a nice euphemism for “anywhere but the hospital or a LTC facility” which reminds me of the American usage of “collateral damage” rather than “unarmed civilians inadvertently killed by the military” —-

    Without a doubt the CCAC’s single minded push for my father to “return to the community” (i.e. Assisted Living) where his needs could not be met – has been absolutely detrimental to his health.

    Yes, the CCAC did provide ‘supplemental’ care at the assisted living residence upon his discharge but the level of care provided by the “service” that the CCAC contracted was rather poor and may have contributed to his re-admittance to the hospital. (the family also spent thousands of dollars per month out of pocket on additional supplemental care)

    The last re-admittance occurred 2 days after we finally managed to get the CCAC bureaucracy to put my father on the Critical Placement list for LTC (Category 1 on waitlist)

    When father was re-admitted he was not expected to live more than a few days but he did in fact manage to “recover” but his health has deteriorated even further and he requires an Alternate Level of Care that can no longer be met by assisted living even with addtional care – he is bed ridden, incontinent, requires two persons to lift and move him and needs 100% assistance for personal care as well as to eat and drink a special diet — BUT as his condition has ‘stabilized’, he is deemed ready to be ‘discharged’ from the hospital – the questions is to go where???

    According to CCAC policy and the Long Term Care Homes Act, he is no longer “eligble” to be placed in Category 1 for LTC Crisis Placement.

    Why? because the CCAC and LTCHA “does not permit” Crisis Placement from the hospital (unless there is severe capacity pressure)

    so here is a terrible Catch-22 : the hospital wants to discharge my father but the CCAC will not put him back in Category 1 on the waitlist is even though he is more sick and requires higher level of care now than when he was first put on the “Crisis Placement’ list

    As my father has automatically been placed back in category 4b on the wait list for placement in a LTC home these are the 2 options:
    wait indefinitely in the hospital for a space one of his 5 selected choices for LTC homes
    move to an immediately available “idle bed”

    Translation of “idle Bed” : an empty bed in one of the area’s most undesirable LTC facilities, (in our LHIN the average wait for a bed in a LTC home is over 200 days yet these facilities with ‘idle beds’ manage to still have availability – that in itself speaks mountains but a tour of these facilities will only confirm your worst fears)

    Unfortunately, my family is not alone with this CCAC / LTC nightmare.

    The current situation is a catastrophy that is only going to get worse and yet the ministry and the CCAC have their heads in the sand.

    Yes, there are many well intentioned, professional and caring individuals who work within the system, but the system itself is broken. Sadly, I have seen first hand on many occasions how treatment of the elderly can often lack compassion, humanity and respect.

    Perhaps a way to drive home the tragic aspect of the situation is to think of it this way: if it was revealed that in our society very young children were treated similarly to the way equally helpless elderly adults are often times treated it would be an absolute scandal and we would be outraged. The newspapers would be rife with headlines and there would be calls for resignations.

    How we could we have let this happen? How can this be allowed to continue?

    • judila416 August 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      Sad, thank you so much for sharing your family’s story. Your father’s predicament is indeed heartbreaking and as you say, there are many more people in similar situations. I think it’s fair to say that the system is malfunctioning to a degree that it needs a complete overhaul. Seniors and their families need more help than what the CCAC is able to provide. And yes, it’s only going to get worse.

  5. katiejburt April 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    Our daughter Isla was born this past January with feeding and swallowing issues. She was given an NG tube through her nose in order to get food to her belly, while her doctors ran tests. Because there were no other issues, staff at the Guelph General Hospital were preparing us to take Isla home with a weighted NG tube in place.

    The weighted tube put in was tricky to find and order. The hospital didn’t carry them but CCAC could access them and this is who we would be set up with to check in with Isla and access home care supplies like syringes.

    We took Isla home at 2 weeks old and the problems started. She pulled out her tube and we called the on call nurse for help to put the temporary in since they will not place the weighted tube. She failed twice after measuring the length too long and kinking it, despite being told the length of Islas previous tube. We ended up going to the hospital to get her usual put in, and being told to take her to emerge from now on, a 3 hour wait where she is exposed to sick patients.

    After two months our care worker decided CCAC no longer could afford or take on ordering Islas 50 dollar tubes and they would be discharging us. I was left with no way to get supplies and no way to get replacement tubes for my daughter who requires them to eat and gain weight and sustain her life.

    The service was useless and her care coordinator and higher ups had no problem leaving us in the lerch with no resources for our daughter. Despite being a contributing tax payer, having a sick child taught me not to depend on a health care system that pushes off it’s patients quickly if there is an expense involved in their care.

    • judila416 April 7, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Katie: Thank you for sharing your family’s experience with CCAC. I hope you have been able to find more suitable, and more caring resources for your daughter.

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