Complex Care Sounds so… Complex!

You’ve heard about home care, extended care, long-term care and residential care. You might have heard a little about intermediate care and even campuses of care. To make things even more complicated, there’s ‘complex care’!

At this point you’re probably thinking, ‘How do we keep them all straight?’ It’s not as confusing as it seems and you’re fairly safe in assuming that most of the above care types are as their names suggest; all except ‘complex care’. You may have assumed that it’s more than the basics and if so, you’re absolutely right. So, what is complex care?

Complex care provides a higher level of personal care than assisted living, to individuals that require round the clock supervision, nursing care or treatment by skilled nursing staff.

Complex care is provided in a community care facility; or more simply put, a residence in which care is provided to three or more individuals, who are unrelated to the owner of the residence.     

Depending upon the province or area that you live in, you may note that this level of care is known by several different names. Complex care may be referred to as extended or intermediate care, and sometimes long-term care. All of these include a requirement for 24-hour nursing staff to be available in a secure environment for individuals who can no longer live safely in their homes.

Services provided in complex care

Typically the following services are provided to individuals requiring complex care:

  • 24-hour professional nursing and personal care
  • Accommodation in a secure, safe environment
  • Medication management
  • Therapeutic and recreational programs
  • Laundry and housekeeping service
  • Nutritious meals
  • Relief and support for families or loved ones that are providing care   

Short and long-term complex care 

The services typically provided under ‘complex care’ may vary across the provinces. When researching this level of personal and professional care for yourself or a loved one, check specifically for health care offerings and services in your province.

Home and Community Care in the province of BC for example, offers a range of support and care services to individuals with chronic, acute and palliative health care needs. You may require the services of Home and Community Care in the following circumstances:

  • You’ve been released from the hospital and are in need of 24-hour supervision and/or professional care on a long or short-term basis
  • You have a chronic health issue that requires the level of care provided by professional nursing staff
  • You have a health issue that makes it impossible for you to life safely in your home

Typical complex care residence

Accommodations vary depending upon the province and city, and even between residences. A typical accommodation is a wheelchair accessible suite with senior friendly fixtures like walk-in showers and grab bars. It may be furnished with a bed, nightstand, dresser and chair, and residents are encouraged to personalize their surroundings with some of their own belongings. There will likely be several suites in a large enough residence to accommodate community kitchens and living areas. There are usually recreation rooms for group activities. Outdoor spaces might include balconies or patios and small personal yards as well as common gardens and green spaces.

Complex care is provided across Canada both by private companies and also as government subsidized accommodations. When researching this level of care, review all options available to you. Carefully consider the advice of a trusted friend or family member as well as your doctor or health care advisor. Most importantly, take your time.    


Written by Alice Lucete
Image by kafka4prez of Flickr

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