A financial strategy for caregivers

Because the rules can change across the country, one should contact their pension plan administrator. For example, federal government employees and those working in federally regulated industries such as broadcasting, transportation and banking are governed under the Pension Benefits Standards Act. There are no hardship provisions under the act, but one can access locked-in funds for shortened life expectancy. Pension plan members employed in the Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory and Nunavut are also governed by this federal legislation.

Finding Hidden Programs

For the informal caregiver hunting for government support, there is a checkerboard of support programs that operate under the radar of conventional health-care support programs. One best kept secret in Nova Scotia is the Access-A-Home Program, which provides up to $5,000 assistance to low- to moderate-income households who must adapt their homes for wheelchair use. To qualify, a member of the household must require a wheelchair for mobility due to a long-term disability and the gross annual household income is less than $39,000. Programs and assistance in New Brunswick can be found at www.homecarenb.ca and www.gnb.ca.

In Alberta, check out these websites for information about available programs and services: www.health.gov.ab.ca; www.seniors.gov.ab.ca; and www.thecareguide.com.

In Manitoba, information can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/health/homecare/ and at www.wecare.ca.

British Columbia operates the Home Adaptations for Seniors’ Independence Program (1-800-639-3938), which provides up to $3,500 for repairs that threaten health or safety. To be eligible, the occupant must be over 65 years of age, have a low income and have difficulty with daily living activities.

Another little known offering is the Ontario Disability Support Program (www.mcss.gov.on.ca), which provides financial assistance and other benefits to eligible people with disabilities and their families. This assistance can include help with accommodation and basic living expenses as well as prescription drugs and basic dental care.

As for Sandra Samuels, cost of a long-term care facility has been determined. But the high price and the long wait have caused more anxiety and no conclusion. The home-care option is preferred, but she’s going to have to shop around for free or low-cost services. After all, tapping resources in the home-care support arena takes a lot of digging. With her husband still in the hospital, she might have the time.

“That would be the epitome of success as far as I’m concerned – to bring my husband home. That’s where he wants to be. That’s where I want him to be,” says Sandra.

* Names have been changed

© Copyright November 2007 CARP magazine