A hospital is not a home. If given the option, who wouldn’t prefer to care for their loved one in the comfort of their own house?

As the Canadian population ages, our hospitals are running out of beds to care for this overwhelming segment of our society.

Every level of government has come to realize we may be close to a crisis. A possible solution, home care -- having a loved one’s medical needs and basic daily necessities taken care of by a professional right in the comfort of their own home.

In its 2017 budget, the federal government has pledged $6 billion over the next 10 years to increase funding to community based services in every province.

When seniors live out their final years in a long term care facility such as a nursing home, there is always someone around. But when they decide to receive care at home, they are often alone.

News of patient abuse at the hands of home care workers or personal support workers may be uncommon, but Detective Roger Caracciolo of the Toronto Police Service feels it may be underreported. There are ways to prevent patient abuse from happening in the first place.

Detective Caracciolo has these tips:

• First, check with the agency providing the home care worker that all background checks were completed and current. This includes local and national police checks. As the client, you also can to ask for references and try to set up and an initial compatibility meeting between the patient and the worker.

• Second, install home surveillance cameras, often known as “nanny cams” in the house and alert the caregiver that they are around. By letting the home care worker know that they exist, that may prevent an incident from occurring. Detective Caracciolo explains: “There’s nothing to hide. This isn’t something you want say I’m gonna bait this and see if something happens, and then catch it happening. You let them know the camera is there.”

• Third, if installing cameras is not possible, simply ask a neighbour or family member to drop in unexpectedly over the course of your loved one’s treatment or care. Alert the home care worker that there are frequent visitors. Knowing that a spot check could occur at any point in time could prevent abuse from occurring.

• Finally, keep the lines of communication open with your loved one who is being cared for and listen to what they say. Even though they may be afflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s this does not mean that an incidence of abuse did not occur. Watch for signs of elevated depression, anger or even physical marks on their bodies.

Elder abuse in the home at the hands of a home care worker may be preventable if these steps are followed and the family takes an active role in the treatment of their loved ones.