Ontario company covers cost of home care for terminally ill woman

NEWSPAPER STORY:  Our client, Right At Home Canada was featured in a story in The Toronto Star.



By Katie Daubs

The ongoing pressure an Ontario family faced to care for a terminally ill relative has been eased by a private health-care company.

Last month, the Star told the story of Doris Landry, an 84-year-old woman who outlived the 90-day funding limit for the Central CCAC’s “Home First” program. In October, Landry’s care was cut from eight hours a day to three hours a day. Landry wanted to stay in her niece’s home in Lisle, Ont., outside of Alliston, but was unable to pay for personal support workers, and her niece Charlene Dunlevy was faced the prospect of turning down work to care for her aunt during the day.

Since Thanksgiving, Burlington-based Right at Home Canada has been providing seven to eight hours a day of care to Landry, in addition to the three hours provided by the CCAC. Landry has extensive nerve damage and is unable to move her extremities. She also has difficulty breathing and requires oxygen.

“We’re doing this because we have big hearts,” said Dani DePetrillo, a care planner.

Earlier this year, Landry was discharged from hospital with a one- to two-month life expectancy. The Central CCAC’s program provided care for eight hours every day and medical equipment. Dunlevy, who works through a temp agency, is able to care for Landry at night and when she isn’t working.

The family liked the CCAC program, but Landry outlived it. The medical equipment remained but care was cut, and Dunlevy was set to turn down a job so she could care for Landry.

“They’ve stepped right in, which is absolutely wonderful to pick up the extra hours that I need,” said Dunlevy, who was able to take an office job with the combination of care from the CCAC (three hours a day) and Right at Home (seven to eight hours a day). During the stretches when she won’t be working, she won’t need the additional care offered by Right at Home.

DePetrillo, a care planner, says Landry’s care is being funded by the company’s community service program fund. The fund is used in situations where people cannot afford care. It’s not an “endless pool of resources,” but enough to help one or two people a year. (The average cost of personal support work is $25 an hour, she said) DePetrillo said they will be able to provide care to Landry for a number of weeks “for sure,” and have told the family they will help them come up with a solution when they are no longer able to fund care completely.

Some home care is covered in Ontario, but as Landry’s case shows, there are constraints.

“CCAC is a very important part of our system,” DePetrillo said. “It’s a catch-22. We’re lucky to have a system that does provide some sort of support but it does have limitations.”