Care In the Community
MS can affect different areas of your life and may change how you approach your day-to-day activities. There are many community resources and programs available to people living with MS that can make life with MS easier to manage. Services in your community can range from help with home maintenance, such as lawn care or home cleaning services, to more specialized programs that allow people to remain living at home, such as personal care workers, day programs and visiting nurses. In addition to the following community services, there are support and self-help groups, recreation and other social events individuals can connect with through the MS Society or other community agencies.
These programs provide supervised community activities and programming to adults living with disabilities. Day programs allow people to be out in their communities while also receiving personal care (where necessary). Individuals must meet eligibility criteria for most adult day programs. There may be a cost associated with the program, subsidies may also be available.
Respite services provide primary caregivers with a needed break from their caregiving role and responsibilities. Depending on where an individual lives, respite services may be offered in-home or short-stay at a long-term care facility. Some programs will offer a licensed personal care worker to provide care for a loved one while the caregiver is away. These programs are offered through most provincial health ministries and private companies. There may be an associated fee, each province and private company will be different.
Personal Care/Support Workers
Personal care workers assist individuals in their own home with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, hair care and meal preparation). Services may be offered on a short-term or long-term basis. Some programs may be called ‘Home Care Services'.
Nursing services may be offered to individuals in the privacy of their own home. Individuals may receive medication administra
rtion, pain management, foot care and disease management and therapy. Bayshore HealthCare has services across most of Canada and Victoria Order of Nurses (VON) in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
Volunteer programs, including Friendly Visitor programs may be available in your community. Activities will vary depending on the program, province and community but may include companionship, reading, outings and transportation.
Home Maintenance Services
Home maintenance services may include light house cleaning, year-round yard and snow maintenance and laundry services.
Physical Activity Programs
There is a growing number of fitness and exercise programs available to people living with disabilities. These physical activity programs provide individuals living with a disability to remain active and engaged socially. Programs may be offered through an MS Society office or community organization.
Equipment and Assistive Devices
In addition to mobility aids (wheelchairs, scooters, walkers or canes) there are a variety of other independent living tools that may be useful for the kitchen, bathroom, workplace, leisure and electronic devices.
Home, Workplace or Vehicle Modifications
Some individuals may need to modify their living and work space as well as their vehicle to accommodate physical or cognitive changes associated with MS. Some provinces and other community organizations offer assistance with home and vehicle modifications for individuals living with disabilities.
Employers have a ‘duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship’, which means an employer would have to provide evidence that the proposed accommodation would pose an undue risk to the health and safety of people in the workplace.
If you sometimes feel overwhelmed with how MS is affecting your life – or are considering giving up an activity that you enjoy doing – these tips may stir your own imagination to find new approaches to living with MS.