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How to Reduce Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) Wait Times

Kimberley Fowler
By Kimberley FowlerAugust 15, 2017

Community Care Action Centres (CCACs) are funded by the Ontario government’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and were originally created in 1996 to help people access Ontario’s government-funded community services and long-term care homes.

Anyone who needs any of these services must apply to the CCAC in the area where they live. Read more about how to make the most of CCACs and how to reduce their wait times.

Ways to Reduce CCAC Wait Times

In Ontario, there are 14 CCACs that provide care services like homemaking, medical nursing care, personal support and rehabilitation to eligible people, mostly seniors. These CCACs are often the first point of contact for seniors who have been discharged from hospital.

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However, as CARP points out, many seniors experience “difficulty in securing timely home care services for themselves or their loved ones.” The reasons for these wait times are complex, and as the Toronto Star shares, include issues with funding as well as labour disputes and other problems which have threatened the continuation of the CCAC program.

Still, CCACs exist and the reality is that while the government tries to improve the system, depending on where you live, the wait for your local CCAC can be frustratingly long. Here are some ways you can reduce your CCAC wait times:

1. Know How the System Works

Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) are community-based, non-profit organizations funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to plan, fund and coordinate services delivered by Ontario:

  • Community Care Access Centres (CCAC)
  • Community Health Centres (CHCs)
  • Community Support Service Agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Long-Term Care Homes
  • Mental Health and Addiction Agencies

CCACs are one of the entry points to Ontario’s government-funded long-term care homes. Different long-term facilities across the province have different wait times, but they all use the same system to split applicants into seven categories.

These categories move from highest priority (Category 1) to lowest priority (Category 4b). Familiarizing yourself with these categories and which one you likely to fall into can help you anticipate the amount of time you may have to wait for a spot in a long-term care community.

Category 1 includes:

  • People who are in a hospital during a crisis
  • People who need immediate access for medical reasons
  • People whose medical needs cannot be met at home
  • People in a nursing home that is scheduled to close within 12 weeks

Category 2 includes:

  • People who meet care needs and have partners or spouses in a long term care home

Category 3A includes:

  • People waiting for a home with specific cultural or religious standards
  • People who are in hospital
  • People who need a lot of care but are still capable of being supported at home until a spot becomes available
  • People who want to transfer from one long term care home to another

Category 3B includes:

  • People who fall under the criteria of 3A but have a less pressing need for care — wait times are typically longer for this category

Category 4A includes:

  • People already in facilities who want to transfer
  • People with high care needs that can be met at home until a bed is available

Category 4B includes:

  • People with high care needs which can be met at home long-term


  • Veterans get special access to homes with Veteran Priority Access Beds

2. Keep Tabs on Your Application

Case managers are CCAC staff who decide who is eligible for services. They also:

  • Arrange with other agencies to provide services to those who qualify
  • Monitor their clients’ ongoing needs for care
  • Provide information about community services
  • Refer people to community services

Talk to your case manager about the services that you’re eligible for and ask about the anticipated wait time. They may not have an answer about your application, but at the very least they can give you an update on where your application is at.

3. Don’t Wait Until a Crisis

Having CCAC come into your home to evaluate your needs doesn’t have to be put off until a crisis happens. For example, a Personal Support Worker (PSW) can help with light housekeeping or bathing once a week, and as your needs grow you’ll already have a case worker on hand to ensure you get the help you need in a timely manner.

There will be a wait involved for the CCAC evaluation, but if you’re not in a crisis situation that wait will feel more reasonable and won’t be so stressful.

4. Respect the Wishes of Your Elders

Many people are understandably reluctant to have someone come into their home to help, or to consider leaving their home to enter long-term care. It is important to remember that your parents and grandparents still have the right to make the call to CCAC for themselves (unless they are legally incapable of doing so, or you have Power of Attorney).

Respecting their wishes is a must, but it does not hurt to encourage them to think ahead, and to help them avoid waiting until they’re in a crisis situation to call CCAC.

What has your experience with CCACs been like? What CCAC wait time tips do you have to share? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

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Kimberley Fowler
Kimberley Fowler
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