Navigating the Healthcare System Checklist

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Caregiver Checklist

Steps on how to navigate the healthcare system

Caring for a friend or family member who requires palliative or end-of-life care can be challenging. You may not know what to expect or how to offer support, but there is a lot you can do and you don’t have to do it alone.

This checklist can help you find your way through the healthcare system.

1.  Contact a Champlain LHIN Care Coordinator

It is very important to connect with a LHIN Care Coordinator who can help develop a care plan that is right for your loved one – whether it's nursing care, meal delivery, a day program, or help to find a family doctor. Essentially, you will have access to more services with a Care Coordinator.

In Ontario, LHIN Home and Community Care is connected to every part of the health-care system and can serve as your single point of contact in obtaining services and information.

To get connected with a LHIN Care Coordinator, visit: Home & Community Support Services - Care Coordinators.

2.  Build a team 

Many Caregivers can feel very alone in their role. Your Caregiver Team helps support you in giving care. The first step is knowing who they are and where you need to go.

Activity to fill out: Who Is on my Caregiver Team?

Examples of people on your Caregiver Team could be a doctor, nurse, practitioner, specialist,  neighbour, family member, or friend.

3.  Determine the Substitute Decision-Maker

It is extremely important to figure out who the Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) is. If your family member/friend is not capable of making their own decisions about medical treatments, a Substitute Decision Maker will be required.

In Ontario, everyone already has a SDM. However, if you are not satisfied with who your SDM is you can appoint someone by completing a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. You do not need to go to a lawyer to complete this.

For more information, visit: Advance Care Planning (INSERT LINK WHEN COMPLETE).

4.  Get Help Navigating the Healthcare System 

The Ontario Caregiver Helpline is a one-stop resource for information and referrals which connects caregivers to the support they need. This might include respite, a support group in your community or programs for the person you care for.

The Helpline offers you:

  • An opportunity to describe the help you need and match you with information and support services in your community.
  • Community Resource Specialists who are trained to understand the unique needs of caregivers in English and French.

For more information, visit: Ontario Caregiver Helpline.

5.  Access Hospice Support

Did you know that people can access hospice services for years before they die? Hospice is not just for the last few months of life – caregivers can receive support from hospices for years.

Hospice programs offer support to people with life-altering illnesses, including their families and caregivers. You don't need to get a referral from a doctor for a hospice. Trained volunteers may offer home visits and some hospices also offer day programs, equipment lending and support groups.

For more information on hospices in the region, visit: Ottawa & Surrounding Area Services (ADD LINK WHEN COMPLETE).

6.  Access Free Services

Connect with agencies that offer help to people with specific diseases and conditions. Depending on what your family member/friend needs, you may have access to free resources.

Agencies such as the Alzheimer’s Society and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation offer help to caregivers and patients who have certain diseases. These services may include support groups, day programs, and education sessions.

For more information on these disease-specific agencies, visit: Champlain Healthline Diseases and Conditions.

7.  Look into Financial Supports

Some financial support might be available, including equipment rentals, home services and help through the Compassionate Care Leave.

For more information, visit: Financial Support - CHPCP.

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Champlain Hospice Palliative Care Program
60 Cambridge Street North
St-Vincent Hospital
Ottawa, Ontario
K1R 7A5