Finding Relief and Support as a Caregiver

Caring for a senior can put you under a lot of stress, but there is support available.


Being responsible for a senior full-time can make anyone feel depressed, overwhelmed and feeling like there is no way out and that there is nothing you can do. The added expenses and time commitments can be draining.

When you start to feel stressed, there are solutions to help you find some relief.

1. Call Spectra Helpline

Sometimes just being able to express your fears and frustrations to a trained volunteer responder can help relieve stress.

2. Respite Care Service

There are a number of services offered by the Ontario government and local agencies throughout Ontario to provide temporary assistance and relief to full-time caregivers of elderly family members or friends.

The loved one you care for can receive support:


Respite care at home

The senior you care for can receive the services they need at home in your absence.

A personal care worker or health care professional (e.g. nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist) can provide the following services:

  • personal support (e.g. oral care, bathing, dressing, assistance with medications, mobility)
  • homemaking (e.g. cleaning, laundry, preparing meals)
  • professional (e.g. nursing, physiotherapy)

The number of hours you can receive for respite care at home varies by service and your unique situation.

Your Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) will perform an assessment to determine whether you are eligible for respite care provided through home care. The LHIN can also refer you to other respite options in the community. Call the LHIN central office at 310-2222 from anywhere in Ontario.

How to qualify

Qualifying for respite care at home is based on the needs of the senior you’ve been caring for.

The senior you care for must – at a minimum – have:

  • a valid Ontario health card (i.e. be covered by OHIP)
  • a home properly equipped for the services needed (e.g. shower chairs, transfer benches)

To find out how you can receive respite care at home, see the Ontario governments page at https://www.ontario.ca/page/respite-care#section-1


Short stays in long-term care home

While you are away, the senior you care for can stay for up to 60 days in a long-term care home. They cannot be admitted for more than 90 days in a calendar year.

How to qualify

Qualifying for respite care in a long-term care home is based on your needs and the needs of the senior in your care.

To qualify, you must:

  • need to be away for more than one day (e.g. vacation), or
  • need to be in hospital, or
  • be experiencing a health issue that is preventing you from continuing to provide care
  • The person in your care must:
    • need nursing care around the clock, or at frequent intervals, including:
      • on-site supervision
      • assistance with daily living
      • monitoring to ensure their safety, well-being and ability to stay in the community
  • be at least 18 years old
  • covered by OHIP (with a valid Ontario health card)

To find out how you can access these programs, see the Ontario government’s page at https://www.ontario.ca/page/respite-care#section-2


Adult day programs

If you need a day or a few days off, the person you care for can attend an adult day program. These programs offer structured and supervised activities in a group setting.

How to qualify

The senior you care for needs a referral from the LHIN for all publicly funded adult day programs. The LHIN coordinator assigned to the senior you care for can help you get a referral.

Each program may require different things to qualify.

Costs for adult day programs

For most programs, a fee will have to be paid for each day the senior you care for attends the program.

To find adult day programs in your area, see the Ontario government’s page at https://www.ontario.ca/page/respite-care#section-3

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