Sandwich Generation – Long-term care: know your options

Know each available facility and list a first preference

Wendy Johnstone

Special to The Record

Moving into a long-term care facility can feel like a rollercoaster ride for both the caregiver and the person being cared for.  It is full of twists and turns, ups and downs and they usually happen very quickly.  We know the drop is coming but the anticipation is often the worst! Even when the ride is over, our legs still feel a little wobbly.

My last column defined long-term care, privately and publicly funded and eligibility.  Once a person is eligible and on a wait list or if they are paying privately, there are still some key steps in the transition.

One of those steps is getting to know the different facility options, regardless of whether a person is paying privately or accessing a publicly funded bed. Although there isn’t a guarantee that a family member can move into their “preferred” facility through the public health-care system, there is still the option to get to know each available facility and to list a first preference. If and where possible, those preferences are honoured.

Determining which facilities best meet the needs of the person requiring care is part of the decision-making process with the case manager. Visiting different facilities is very helpful in figuring out best fit and order of preference. Ask your case manager how to arrange tours with publicly funded facilities and make an appointment for a tour ahead of time with the staff at the facility.

Doing some research includes making a list of needs and wants for care and comfort of the person moving, considering location of the facility and accessibility to the community and by family and friends, additional costs not included in the daily rate, etc.

A great checklist can be found on page 7 of the Ministry of Health of BC’s publication, “Planning for Your Care Needs: Help in Selecting a Residential Care Facility.” See

I also encourage seniors and family members to start their own personalized care plan which includes key biographical information and pictures showing life milestones with significant meaning, what a current normal daily schedule looks like, personal care preferences and a list of hobbies and other areas of interest.   This really helps seniors and families to identify important things to focus on during the transition and will be a huge help to staff and family during and after the move.

Get yourself a journal and/or binder to keep track of key information and documents.  You can also start by making a list of what bills/mail needs to be redirected and who is going to tackle this.  It’s always helpful to connect with someone who has “been there, done that!”



Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs regularly in the Comox Valley Record.


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