What you need to know about personal care home eligibility

By Laurel Rose
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Monday, August 16, 2021

Most of us don’t like to think about placing ourselves or a loved one into a personal care home (PCH) or long-term care facility, so it comes as no surprise that it’s a process often avoided until every feasible alternative has been exhausted.

What may surprise you, however, is that the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) is just as likely to view placement into long term care as a “last resort” as you are.

Like other health authorities in the province, the WRHA has long held a “home is best” philosophy focused on helping people to remain independent and live in their own communities for as long as possible. Research shows that this offers a better road toward the maintenance of good health and quality-of-life.

In fact, placement in long term care is only considered when the client can no longer be supported by formal and informal community supports and all options for community living have been reviewed.

Formal supports might include the WRHA Home Care program, private care, housing with additional services, meal delivery programs, community agencies, transportation services, primary care networks and many others. Informal supports include the invaluable efforts of family, friends, neighbors and faith communities, to name a few.

Despite these supports, there may come a time when people can no longer manage in their home and require the 24-hour nursing care available in a PCH (sometimes called a “nursing home”).

The WRHA funds and oversees the operations of 39 long term care facilities, including 38 personal care homes and the St.Amant health care facility. In total, there are over 5,500 PCH beds in Winnipeg. Eligibility assessment and access – commonly called the “paneling process” – is coordinated through Home Care program and the WRHA’s Long Term Care Access Centre (LTCAC).

As the single point of entry into long term care in Winnipeg, the LTCAC is responsible for scheduling paneling dates, ensuring clients have access to long term care services that are most appropriate to their needs, and for maintaining waiting lists for personal care homes/long term care programs.

The actual paneling process is relatively straightforward and easy to understand. Coordinators from the LTCAC work together with their Home Care and hospital partners to assist with problem-solving.  An application is completed by the Home Care Case Coordinator and is signed by the client or substitute decision maker to indicate their consent and understanding of the process. A medical assessment is completed by the primary care provider and accompanies the application. The application for long term care is then presented to an assessment panel authorized by the Manitoba department of Health and Seniors Care.

In order to be eligible for long term care, clients must meet Manitoba residency requirements, require 24-hour nursing support/care, be medically, functionally and behaviorally stable, and consent to the plan to move to long term care. The majority of the costs for these services is paid by the provincial government, with the client paying a daily charge based on income as assessed by the Canada Revenue Agency. The Manitoba government reviews these charges on an annual basis.

Applicants identify a long term care facility as their preferred or permanent choice. Depending on the wait list for their preferred choice, however, a client may be placed into an alternate facility until a space becomes available.

If you have questions about whether placement in a PCH is the right decision for you or your loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Home Care Case Coordinator, your primary care provider, or the WRHA’s Long Term Care Access Centre.

In addition, The Long Term & Continuing Care Association of Manitoba has complied an online reference for frequently asked questions about personal care homes. It’s available at https://www.ltcam.mb.ca/pch-faq.htm.

More information is also available from the WRHA’s Long Term Care Access Centre at 204-940-8670, or by visiting wrha.mb.ca/long-term-care/.

Laurel Rose is the Continuing Care Operations Leader with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

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