Ongoing COVID-19 Response

Ongoing COVID-19 Response

Message from Bruce Mahony, Executive Director:

I am writing to provide a brief overview of how our Central Toronto office of Home Instead Senior Care continues to operate our home care services through this challenging time.

As Toronto begins Stage 3 of reopening, we continue to recognize the risks that COVID-19 present for our senior population and are delivering our services appropriately. To date, we have had no clients who have had, or are suspected of having COVID-19.

Our Central Toronto office was a first responder in developing and following best practice disease management procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19 . We are maintaining our strict disease management procedures throughout Stage 3 of reopening, and continue to actively monitor the spread of COVID-19 to ensure we are prepared for prompt action to protect the health and well-being of our clients, their families, our caregivers, and our administrative staff.

  • Access to Proactive Industry Updates: As a Board member of Home Care Ontario, the industry association for home care services, I have been involved in 30+ meetings and received 200+ communications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, to date. We maintain a  sub-committee of service provider organization executives, which holds a virtual meeting each Thursday morning, to ensure that we are sharing best practices and communicating the needs and challenges of senior care to the Ontario government. Many of us have been through similar situations, such as SARS in 2003, and due to this, we have experience and sophistication in dealing with this type of healthcare crisis.
  • Office Operations: Throughout the pandemic, home care has been designated as an essential service, and has been available for seniors which require these services. With regard to our physical office, we consider ourselves to be an essential service for many of our clients and community service-sector partners and, as such, our physical office currently remains open, with Lisa and myself present. Our other administrative employees are working remotely on a virtual private network with full access to our telephone system.  This allows us to continue to plan collaboratively and best respond to changing community requirements, while protecting the health and safety of our staff. As the longest-standing Home Instead Senior Care operator in Ontario, our office is very well established, enabling us to remain stable and weather this healthcare and economic crisis.
  • Nursing Expertise: We have two very experienced clinical Registered Nurses on staff, who provide coaching, guidance, and decision-making. Their expertise and leadership continues to be pivotal to the safe operation of our office and delivery of care within the community.
  • Supply of PPE: When I first saw the COVID-19 situation emerging offshore, our office quickly procured buffer inventory of high quality personal protective equipment (PPE). We have not faced the shortages of supplies that other agencies have experienced. We continue to hold a sufficient supply of PPE to safely deliver senior in-home care services, and have developed a breadth of PPE supplier relationships to support ongoing access to PPE.
  • Caregiver Quality Control Standards: We want you to know that we have been guiding our caregivers and providing them with regular updates. Our caregiving staff are certified and trained and we have been sending out constant reminders on best practices and protocols. We are requiring regular screening of our caregivers in the community and in facilities, in compliance with – and frequently in excess of – provincial and congregate living health care standards. We continue to hire new caregivers to ensure we can meet the senior in-home care needs of our clients, and actively screen these caregivers prior to staffing.
  • New Clients: At this time, while we are receiving inquiries, we are not taking on new clients who are in self-isolation or who have travelled outside of Ontario, in order to best protect our existing clients, their families, and our caregivers.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.



Are you a Family Caregiver?

Lisa and Bruce Mahony were on the cover and inside of: Neighbours of Yorkville and the Annex this month about being a caregiver.

Advice to help you cope and stay healthy as a caregiver

Much is being written about caring for a loved one, but there is hardly a topic more complicated and heartbreaking than this caregiver topic for many Canadians. Whether your loved one is recuperating from an illness or surgery, has been diagnosed with cancer, or has a chronic condition such as dementia many families are asking themselves, what does it mean to care for my loved one?

It may range from taking that person to medical appointments to helping them with such necessities of life as bathing and dressing, making meals and monitoring medication, or even serving as a companion so that they stay engaged and don’t slide downhill.

Acting as a caregiver can be tough, but it’s an important and necessary role as we help loved ones recuperate or manage their care. For many people caring for a loved one is a meaningful and gratifying experience. For others it can be daunting and a highly frustrating and demanding challenge.

“At Home Instead we see families who are torn apart caring for loved ones,” reveals Bruce Mahony of Home Instead Senior Care in Toronto. “While the primary caregiver may feel over-burdened, other family members may feel ignored or helpless if they can’t be around as much as they would like.”

Often siblings or adult grandchildren have their own views on what’s best for their loved one. One solution is for each member to own one area of care (medical, personal care, finances), thereby empowering each family member with responsibility while also alleviating some of the demand.

“Caring for someone when you don’t live close by and can’t be there regularly is another challenge we often encounter,” said Mahony. “Home Instead caregivers can visit for a few hours a week, take your loved one out for a meal, to appointments, or run errands.”

Even with assistance, the challenge for caregivers is they become consumed with taking care of their loved one and neglect to care for themselves. Understandably self-care is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but it’s also one of the best things you can do for your loved one.

To keep from burning out, make sure you:

  • Eat healthfully – Comfort foods may make you feel better in the moment, but a balanced and healthy diet will help you maintain your energy over the long-term.
  • Exercise regularly – While it may feel like a chore, exercise releases endorphins and helps your body fight stress.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep – A full 8 hours every night may not always be possible, but protecting your sleep should be a priority. If your sleep is interrupted and you need to take a nap during the day, do not exceed short, 15-20 minute naps or you’ll find it difficult to sleep through the night.
  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well – You’re of no help to anyone if you’re not feeling well and your body will take longer to recover if you don’t allow it to fight off illness.
  • Keep up to date on your medical appointments – Your health is just as important as your loved-one’s. Don’t ignore warning signs and make sure to speak with your doctor about your own health challenges.
  • Take care of your own emotional and mental health – Caregivers often put themselves under tremendous pressure and taking care of your mental health is important. Home Instead offers links ( and online tools to help you assess your stress level and methods to cope with caregiver stress, allowing your family caregiving role to be more rewarding. Another great resource is CAMH (

“It’s tough for many people to talk about, but caregivers face depression, resentment and guilt as they travel the journey with their loved one,” said Mahony. “As a caregiver you build support networks around your loved ones, but you need to build a support network for yourself too.”

For more information, call Bruce Mahony at 416-972-5096 or use the contact form.

Working Women Experience Stigma Due to Caregiving

New Research Reveals Working Women Experience Stigma Due to Caregiving - Senior In Home Care Toronto

New Research Reveals Working Women Experience Stigma Due to Caregiving

Home Instead Senior Care Offers Resources to Support Employees Caring for Aging Parents

By Mary Ann Freedman Home Instead Senior Care

Stigma Due to Caregiving: A new survey found that half of working female caregivers feel they have to choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter. In addition, 25% of working daughters report a workplace stigma associated with being a caregiver for an aging parent, and 23% have found that their supervisor is unsympathetic, according to Home Instead Inc.

In an effort to start a conversation about how working family caregivers can be better supported in the workplace, Home Instead Senior Care has launched a new public education program, Daughters in the WorkplaceSM. The new program offers free resources to help educate working family caregivers on how to work with their employers to address some of the challenges they face.

“Often, we see working caregivers who feel that they have to make a choice between work and their aging loved one,” said Bruce Mahony, Managing Director of Home Instead Senior Care in Toronto. “They are often unaware of what resources are available and how to navigate those conversations with their employer.”

Home Instead offers the following tips to family caregivers to help relieve stress and achieve better balance.

  1. Be realistic. Take time to understand how much you can do to take care of a loved one, do well at your job, and stay healthy.
  2. Honesty is the best policy. Be honest with yourself and your employer about the issues you are facing and what you need. Create a plan that contains ways you can complete your work and still meet your loved one’s needs.
  3. Get plenty of rest. Think about ways you can enhance the quality of your sleep. This will help you handle life’s daily challenges.
  4. Ask for help including respite care. Sometimes a little help goes a long way. Check with your employer about any backup emergency care services your company might offer through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Some do. Think about ways others could help you. If you have family nearby, they may be able to help, or check with your local Home Instead Senior Care® office ( to learn how professional caregiving could help you.
  5. Look for ways to give back. If your employer offers flexibility and help, think about ways to do something extra and, step up to the plate!

Home Instead Senior Care provides non-medical in-home care services for seniors in their homes and in retirement and care residences in Central Toronto. Care can range from a few hours per week up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information you can reach Bruce Mahony in the neighbourhood at 21 Belmont Street or call 416 972 5096.

Stigma Due to Caregiving

Between March 21 and 28, 2017, 1,001 working female caregivers, aged 45-60, were surveyed in Canada and the United States by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network.

In sickness and in health

Spouses in the caregiving role

In a fraction of a second a tiny blood vessel in the brain can burst and cause a stroke. The consequences of that event can ripple far beyond the person who experienced it. In the blink of an eye, a person’s marital relationship can change from a more-or-less equal partnership into an unbalanced dynamic that can cause stress in the marriage.

Spouses can get thrust into the caregiving role, due to a sudden illness like a stroke or a chronic condition like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Spousal caregivers might face situations other caregivers do not, such as needing to renegotiate marital roles.

“So many spouses are unaware of their potential risk of caregiver stress because they don’t see themselves as caregivers,” says Bruce Mahony of Home Instead Senior Care in Toronto. “There are tips that can help spouses understand their role, the stresses they may face as a caregiver, and how that stress might lead to their own more serious health issues.”

Stress among family caregivers is prevalent but frequently goes undetected and untreated. More than two million Canadians currently provide care to a loved one with chronic health problems or disabilities. Seventy per cent of caregivers acknowledge that providing care to their loved one has an impact on their stress levels.

“It’s important for caregivers to understand that stress can impact one’s ability to care. If they don’t care for themselves, they may put their loved ones at risk. Whether it’s support groups, stress management techniques, or respite help, caregivers need to realize the importance of managing their own health, too,” adds Scott Johnson, Managing Director of Home Instead Senior Care in Halton.

Spousal caregivers have identified four main areas of caregiving stress: spousal criticism; in-law issues; juggling a full-time job with caregiving; and loneliness. Since they also live with the person they are caring for, which doesn’t provide for any breaks physically or emotionally, spousal caregivers often feel much more stress. Home Instead Senior Care recommends these tips to cope:

Turn to community resources for help. Contact your family doctor who can direct you to resources to tap into for respite care, home care, and more.

Make sure you and your spouse have valid wills, living wills and powers of attorney documents so there’s no question who has the legal right to make decisions on your and your spouse’s behalf, should either of you become incapacitated.

If you can’t leave the house to take a walk or hit the gym, invest in workout equipment like a treadmill. This will enable you to reap the stress-busting rewards of exercise without the anxiety of wondering if your spouse is all right on his/her own while you’re away from the house.

Plan monthly or quarterly get-togethers with your friends for dining, shopping, or another fun activity. Arrange for a family member to take care of your spouse for the time you’ll be gone or obtain professional respite care.

All too often, the caregiving conversation revolves around children and grandchildren caring for aging relatives. But spouses provide the bulk of care when their husband or wife becomes ill or disabled at any age, and they face special challenges in providing care. It is important that as a caregiver, you maintain your own health, because if you aren’t well, you will be less able to help your spouse.

Tech toys may help seniors stave off mental decline

Photo by Aidan Chafe Edith Vuchnich, 93, and Terence Bredin, 78, enjoy a simulated bowl during the “Keeping it Sharp” demonstration held at Briton House retirement centre
Edith Vuchnich spent the afternoon playing video games with friends and fellow residents. The 93-year-old enjoyed a simulation of 10-pin bowling that enables users such as Vuchnich to avoid the burden of holding an actual ball and save a trip to the bowling alley.

“Oh, yes that was so much fun,” she said. “I threw two (strikes) didn’t I?”
Home instead of Senior Care recently hosted “Keeping it Sharp” at Briton House retirement centre on Mount Pleasant Road.

About 50 residents participated in Nintendo Wii bowling and jeopardy with the help of Nintendo representatives who were on hand.

The purpose of the demonstration, according to coordinator Bruce Mahony from Home instead of Senior Care, is to encourage the elderly to keep an active mind by participating in stimulating activities which could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of dementia.

Although dementia is a disease caused by damage of the brain over time, Mahony cited current research which suggests that mental exercise helps to keep the mind sharp.

“We’re here to create some awareness,” Mahony said. “Exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body. We want to be actively seeking information about how to keep mentally sharp.”

Mark Wells, son of Russell Wells, owner of the family run business at Briton House, can attest to that. He says a good portion of the seniors at the residence have some form of dementia and it’s difficult for staff to help get them through the day.

“We’ll look at anything that can help out our seniors,” he said. “And if this is something that will keep them engaged that’s excellent.”

Wells says he’s not surprised seniors are interested in the latest in entertainment technology, even though they never grew up around it. “There is a group that won’t get into these things, and never will,” he said.

Seniors use internet on a daily basis

“But then there are some that want to be challenged and stimulated. I mean we see a lot of our seniors use the internet on a daily basis.”

The experiment, although striking a chord with residents and staff, did come with its set of glitches. Because Nintendo originally didn’t intend for the Wii to be geared towards an older audience, in regards to menu settings the console isn’t as user friendly as they’d have you believe.

It took several minutes for staff to get the system operating, and there was confusion on how to use the hand-held operated remote once the game started.

Wells ensures that his staff will be on hand on a regular basis to help residents work out initial difficulties in learning how to play, and overall sees potential with the system.

“What happens is that they tend to give up on something if they struggle at first,” Wells said.

“With these games, than say with other video games on the market, a lot of them can pick it up quite easily and so they’re willing to come back and try it again.”

Another issue is cost. The Wii, although considered cheap compared rival consoles, might not be in an affordable investment for seniors budgeting tight pensions.

That won’t be a problem at places like Briton House as they become the fourth senior’s home in Canada to purchase the Wii system. As for Mahony and Home instead of Senior Care, they’re looking at options to incorporate the system when staff go to visit clients.

Filed October 23, 2007, from the Centre for Creative Communications
By Aidan Chafe

Seniors trade walkers for Wii

Wii remote for seniors excercise
Video game day gets residents exercising bodies and minds

Barbara Foley was skeptical, at best, about trying video games.
“My grandchildren say, `It’s easy, Nana.’ But I never played,” said Foley, 85. “I’m old-fashioned.”
At the Briton House Retirement Residence yesterday, about 60 seniors gathered for a short workshop presented by Home Instead Senior Care, a provider of non-medical services, on keeping the mind sharp with video games.

With their walkers pushed aside and encouraging cheers from onlookers, three teams of seniors, including Foley – “I got nailed to do it” – tried Nintendo Wii bowling. Using a handheld remote, they took turns swinging their arms in a bowling motion, releasing a button on the remote, and watching on a large screen how their balls progressed toward the pins.

Strike! Foley hit it big.

“I liked it,” laughed the neophyte bowler, amazed at her success. “Kids today really know something.”

Then she and teammate Joanna Wilson, 83, giggled together about how they both bounced their balls.

The aging population is a lucrative potential market for the game industry. Last year Nintendo came out with Brain Age, geared to older consumers. Several seniors at the workshop tried the Brain Age word scramble and math problem games. They also played along with a video Jeopardy game.

Twenty-five per cent of people playing computer and video games are 50 years or older, according to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada.

There’s evidence that people who use their brains tend not to get Alzheimer’s as much as those who don’t regularly exercise their grey matter, said Jack Diamond, scientific director of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

“It’s quite probable that the adage `use it or lose it’ applies to the brain,” he said.
But can video games boost the brain?

“If a game required you to think and come to a conclusion and then apply it, that would be good,” said Diamond.

Despite the popularity of video games, we don’t know what they do to our brains, said Jim Karle, a Ph.D psychology student at McMaster University. He compared the brainwaves of a group of adult regular video game players to a group of non-players. Electrical activity in the part of the brain involved in short-term memory storage seemed to be more pronounced in the gamers, he said. The next step will be to try to understand these memory differences.

Other scientists, said Karle, have found that video game players do better at processing their visual environment, keeping track of everything they see, such as traffic on a busy highway.
“You do 20 minutes of weight-bearing exercise for osteoporosis and 20 minutes of video game play to prevent decline in visual processing,” he said. “That’s obviously speculative. But wow, that would be cool.”

The Toronto Star
October 17, 2007
Nancy J. White
living reporter

Seniors strike it healthy with virtual bowling

Wii bowling keeps seniors active
Friday is bowling night at the Millennium Trail Manor retirement home, when up to 20 residents gather for some friendly competition on the lanes.

“It’s fun, it’s very challenging,” says 79-year-old Helen Bradnam, who only misses bowling when she has other Friday night plans.

They’re going to try boxing next.

There’s no risk of bruised knuckles or broken noses, though, because the residents play the sports on the Wii, Nintendo’s motion-sensitive video game system. The Niagara Falls long-term care facility is one of a small but growing number of Canadian seniors’ programs using video games to keep bodies and minds nimble.

They’re supported by a growing body of research that endorses a “use it or lose it” notion of aging.
“We are all about stimulation, so we try to encourage not only physical stimulation but cognitive stimulation. Video games are just another great way to encourage that,” says Jeanie Burke, managing director of the Halifax office of Home Instead Senior Care.

The company assists with daily living tasks through offices across Canada, and includes video games alongside Bridge tournaments and crossword puzzles on its list of recommended activities.
A recent survey from PopCap Games, which makes “casual” games for a general audience, showed that almost half of players are over the age of 50 and one in five (19 per cent) are over 60. A large number play the games with their children or grandchildren and see it as a great way to bond.
Even for neophytes, the Wii is an easy choice. Players simply hold a motion-sensitive controller and move their bodies like they would while bowling, playing baseball or boxing in the real world.

Doreen Mayer-Korten, the recreation planner who started the Wii craze at Millennium Trail Manor when she brought in her family’s system, says even residents in wheelchairs expand their range of motion and get a gentle workout while playing.

“I always say you can teach an old dog a new trick,” she says. “They’re very open to it and they really enjoy it.”

Nintendo has also released two version of Brain Age, a collection of puzzle games that promise a “mental workout.” Players earn a “brain age” number the first time they play and then try to improve it and exercise their minds into a more youthful state.

Dr. Sharon Cohen has incorporated Brain Age into treatment programs for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia at the Toronto Memory Clinic. The games really do offer mental callisthenics, she says.

“In the face of aging and the prospect of us losing mental power, it’s not all downhill,” she says. “There’s lots of fun to be had and it’s very reassuring to know that at whatever age we can improve cognitive function and have fun doing it.”

Video games provide moments of fun and excitement even for those living with dementia and memory-loss, says Alistair Hicks, franchise owner of the Greater Victoria office of Home Instead. A caregiver recently took a client with early onset dementia to an arcade, he says, where they “had a ball” playing air hockey, shooting at aliens and driving race cars.

Moments after walking out of the arcade, the client was still beaming about the experience, even though the memory of what they’d done had already vanished.

“The important thing is being in the moment, enjoying the moment, because for people with Alzheimer’s, that’s it,” says Hicks. “They’re much more in the moment than all of us who are out there in the working world.”

CanWest News Service
Sat 13 Oct 2007
Byline: Shannon Proudfoot
Source: CanWest News Service

Seniors challenge their grey matter

Piano as an activity for seniors

Adopt ‘use it or lose it’ mantra when it comes to exercising ‘your brain’

Ruth Vuchnich is 93 years old.
The Ohio-born senior still drives a car — “I don’t drive after dark,” she admits — and takes French lessons.

Vuchnich has been known to play five-pin bowling and she volunteers at least once a week at the YWCA boutique, an organization she’s supported for more than 60 years.


An active lifestyle helps her stay young, Vuchnich said.
“Your brain, like anything else, can become atrophied if you don’t use it,” Vuchnich said with a smile yesterday at Keeping It Sharp, an event for seniors at the Briton House Retirement Residence on Mount Pleasant Rd.

“Use it or lose it.”

The event, hosted by Home Instead Senior Care, put Nintendo’s Wii gaming system in the hands of Briton House residents to play bowling games and answer Jeopardy questions to show seniors it’s important to exercise their brains.

A U.S. study found adults over age 65 are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia if they play board games or musical instruments, read or do crossword puzzles.
The Alzheimer Society encourages Canadians to challenge their brain by shaking up their routine, learning a new hobby, reading a book and playing memory games, chess or crossword puzzles.


Holding the Wii game wand, Vuchnich swung her arm back, then forward, mimicking the bowling action, cheering at the sound of toppling pins.

“I felt a little loss of control than when you try on a regular ball,” said Vuchnich, a first-time gamer. “It’s fun.”

Trying new hobbies is nothing new to Vuchnich. Her late husband of 52 years, Mickey, a former football player, took up golf at middle age and Vuchnich learned to play the game with him.
“Being married to him didn’t make me an athlete,” she said. “He always wanted me to play with him and I did.”

Bruce Mahony, managing director of Home Instead, which provides companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping and other services to seniors, said he has seen the lives of his clients improve dramatically when they’re able to sharpen their brains.
One man, who suffered a stroke after losing his wife last Christmas, has returned to playing the piano to help him recover from his injuries.

“He’s playing concertos out of his head,” Mahony said. “Like physical fitness, you can lose it, but you can also regain it. It’s about keeping the brain active and keeping yourself stimulated.”