How to access Community Health Services

How to access Community Health Services

This information tells you how to access Community Health Services. It also includes important information about making decisions about your care. This page includes:

  1. Where do I start?
  2. Eligibility
  3. Application process
  4. Assessment
  5. Client Service Agreement
  6. Cost
  7. Making decisions
  8. Referral resources

1. Where do I start?

You start by contacting an Island Health Community Health Services office near you.

We also accept referrals from another person on your behalf such as a:

  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Pharmacist
  • Social Worker
  • family member
  • friend
  • legal guardian

We will ask some questions to find out what you need and whether you are eligible for our services.


2. Eligibility

To be eligible for Community Health Services professional care, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status (landed immigrant or approved Minister’s permit) or have been issued a temporary residence permit
  • require care at home
  • meet the functional criteria for the service

To be eligible for subsidized services within Community Health Services, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status (landed immigrant or approved Minister's permit)
  • be 19 years of age or older
  • be a resident of BC for at least three months

These eligibility requirements are set by the BC Ministry of Health Services.

If you are eligible for Community Health Services, we work with you to determine which specific services you are eligible for using standard assessments and criteria. We use the same system with every client to help make sure you receive services fairly.

If you are not eligible for our services, we will give you information about other services in your community that may be able to meet your needs.


3. Application process

To start the application process, first we receive a referral from you or another person on your behalf. To make a referral, contact an Island Health Community Health Services office.

We will ask some questions to find out what you need and whether you are eligible for our services.

How does the process work?

If you are eligible for our services,  a home health professional will visit you to discuss your situation and needs. This is called an intake assessment.

When you become a client, we will ask you to sign a client service agreement and then we will work with you and your family to create a care plan that meets your needs. 

Your home health professional will stay in touch with you throughout the process to find out what your needs are, arrange services and make changes if your needs change. 


4. Assessment

Your home health professional will do a needs assessment.  For some services a financial assessment will also be needed.

Before your assessment visit, you may wish to make a list of questions you have and gather any information you feel will help. You may wish to have a family member or a friend with you during the assessment visit to provide support and help you answer questions.

During the assessment visit, the home health professional may ask you about:

  • your health history and current health issues
  • your ability to cope with your health care issues
  • permission to contact your family, your doctor and others involved in your care
  • what medications you take
  • how you manage activities of daily living such as eating and dressing
  • what family and social supports you have, such as friendships, churches and groups you belong to 
  • your income

Your home health professional may ask to see:

  • two pieces of identification to confirm your identity
  • your BC Care Card
  • prescription medication
  • the name and phone number of your doctor(s)
  • the name and address of a close relative or friend
  • your most recent income tax return or notice of assessment
  • war veteran and pension cheque stubs

Based on this assessment, we will discuss with you:

  • which specific services you are eligible for
  • what your health care needs are
  • whether you will be required to pay anything

5. Client Service Agreement

When you become a client, you will be asked to sign a Service Agreement. This is an agreement between you and Community Health Services, and outlines the roles and responsibilities between the client and care providers.

The agreement:

  • gives your consent for receiving care and services from us
  • allows us to apply for certain benefits on your behalf
  • describes our commitment to keep your personal information confidential
  • outlines what our common expectations are for respect and safety

By signing the agreement, it means:

  • you agree with the content of the agreement
  • you agree to let us share your information only when needed by other health care providers

Before you sign the service agreement, make sure you understand what it says and what we can and cannot do for you.

Ask as many questions as you need to. If English is not your first language, we may be able to arrange an interpreter. Keep your copy of the service agreement in a safe place.

Care Plan

Your home health professional will develop a care plan with you and your family. The care plan becomes the guide for everyone who cares for you, to make sure you get the care that is right for you. We review your plan with you regularly and update it whenever there are changes.


6. Cost

There is no fee for the following Community Health Services:

  • Case management
  • Nursing
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Dietitian services
  • Social work

Publicly Subsidized Services

A publicly subsidized service means that Island Health covers some or all of the services fees, and users may contribute a portion based on after-tax on income. Publicly subsidized services include:

Financial Assessment

If you need subsidized services, a financial assessment will be done to determine the amount you will pay.  Your home health professional can complete the financial assessment with you and your family if you wish. The financial assessment is based on your after-tax income. Your assets are not included in this assessment.

Fees may change yearly. Please check with your home health professional for the current client rate. 

Other costs

There may be a cost for some equipment or supplies:

  • Medication costs are not covered by Home and Community Care.
  • You may need to rent or buy equipment such as walkers, bath seats, wheelchairs, and dressing supplies.

Help covering your costs

Depending on your situation, some or all of your costs might be covered by an alternate payer, such as:

  • Fair Pharmacare
  • Veterans Affairs Canada
  • WorkSafe BC
  • Ministry of Housing and Social Development
  • Insurance Corporation of BC
  • Extended Health Benefits Plan
  • First Nations Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB)
  • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
  • BC Palliative Care Benefits Program

Temporary rate reductions are available for eligible clients experiencing serious financial hardship. 


7. Making Decisions

We encourage you to think ahead about your health care. If you were to get sick or injured, you might not be able to tell your family, friends, or health care provider how you want to be treated. Although we hope this does not happen, it is best to plan while you are able to make these important decisions.

Advance Care Planning

An Advance Care Plan, sometimes called a living will or advance directive, is a set of instructions written by you. If you are not able to make your own health decisions, the advance care plan tells the person providing care what kind of care you want.

Please visit Island Health's Advance Health Care Planning Program for more information.

Representation Agreements

You might also consider a Representation Agreement, which lets you appoint someone to make health decisions on your behalf. In a Representation Agreement you can also appoint someone to take care of financial and legal matters for you. 

For more information about Representation Agreements, please click here.

 

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