Spouses and family members offer invaluable emotional support and normalcy for their loved one as they experience numerous changes that come with aging. While most seniors are able to remain living in their own homes with supports as they age, some of them must move from their family home into residential care or assisted living when their care needs can no longer be managed in their home setting. When this happens, adjusting to the change is difficult for someone with frail health and this is further aggravated by the loneliness they experience when separated from the spouse and/or other family they lived with. This is why Fraser Health provides individuals with the ability to choose the geographical cluster they most wish to live in; and, when both members of a couple need residential care or assisted living, we seek to reunite them on the same campus (either residential care or residential/assisted living) whenever possible.
Making sure someone’s care needs are met in the right facility and they are placed in the community of their choice is a complex process. It becomes even more complex when pairing the needs of two individuals, especially if they need different levels of care (i.e. one needs residential complex care and one is far more independent requiring only assisted living). With these complexities, sometimes reunification cannot happen as quickly as people would like.
Some of the things we look at when reuniting a couple, include:
- Care needs: Couples often don’t need the same level of care at the same time. For instance, one person might need to be placed in an assisted living environment, and their spouse may need a higher level care and need to be in residential care. Finding a campus of care that can accommodate both their needs in the geographic community of their choice can be a challenge. NOTE: at present 15 funded assisted living facilities in Fraser Health are on the same campus as one of the 80 residential care sites.
- Geographic location: A family’s preference for a particular community or residence may limit options for placement, as we wait for a bed to become available. Expanding the area a couple is willing to live can reduce how long they may wait.
- Urgency: Sudden changes in health can lead to an unexpected need for residential care. Not having care can leave a person vulnerable to risks. Once our care team has assessed the individual, we work with families to access resources that meet their needs across the region. While urgent placement is being arranged, an increased level of care can be provided to support the family in their home. If the placement must occur rapidly, an individual may be placed anywhere in the region where there is availability and then transferred to their desired location later.
- Vacancy: Wait times are hard to predict with accuracy as they depend on when a bed becomes available. Fraser Health is committed to keeping couples together and will work closely with families to ensure that it happens as quickly and safely as it is possible given the many competing needs across the system of care.