Old Ottawa South Community Association

Seniors health: Ten Essential Phone Numbers

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Last winter, home alone late one night, I slipped on the kitchen floor and fell awkwardly. Fearing I’d broken my hip and sprained my ankle, I lay like a beached whale thinking, who am I going to call? What am I going to do?

Similarly, a neighbour fell on ice and broke her arm in several places. Once released from the hospital to her Old Ottawa South home, she realized that she could not clean her house, or provide for herself. She had been allocated an hour a day of home care to help her dress and shower but soon after she arrived home, she realized this was inadequate and was at a loss as to whom to contact.

Here are 10 numbers every OOS senior should keep handy in case the unexpected happens, when needing help to stay in their own home or when thinking about plans for the future. Below the chart are details of some of what each organization provides, with commentary on the likely response when calling these numbers.



Telephone Number

Hours of Operation


1. Your Doctor


2. Home & Community Care (LHIN)


M-F: 8-8; Sat: 8:30-8:00; Sun: 8:30-6:00


3. Community Services




4. Emergency Services




5. Ottawa Public Health


M-F: 9-4


6. Abbotsford House


M-F: 8:30-4:30


7. Long-Term Care


M-F: 8-8; Sat: 8:30-8, Sun: 8:30-6:00


8. Mental Health Crisis




9. Tele-Health




10. Eldercare Emergency Respite




1. Your Family Doctor

Cherish him or her if you have a good one, but be on the lookout for another if yours is nearing retirement. Mine gave me 3 months warning of her retirement (after 25 years together) and 9 months later I was still looking for a doctor. Register with Health Care Connect (HCC) (1-800-538-0520) as soon as possible after yours resigns since some doctors only accept new patients from that list. I have never received a call from HCC, however. Thus, it is still wise to search on your own. Some doctors give priority on their waiting lists to family members. So, even though my son’s doctor’s waiting list is closed, I am on his waiting list. The third possibility is the College of Physicians and Surgeons www.cpso.on.ca. You can browse its online lists of doctors in your area and then look them up on “Rate your Doctor Ontario” at www.ratemds.com/best-doctors/on. A healthy pinch of salt is required when reading these ratings. In the end, in my case, word of mouth worked best. A friend referred me to her doctor and I am keeping my fingers crossed – I have an appointment in a month’s time.

2. LHIN Home Community Care 310-2222 (M-F: 8-8; Sat: 8:30-8, Sun: 8:30-6) @ www.healthcareathome.ca/champlain/en 

At this number, you can speak to a real person at the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network). It is not for emergency calls, but in the case of my neighbour who broke her arm, she could have received an in-home assessment to see if she qualified for physiotherapy and occupational therapy services to help her recover and adapt better to her circumstances. This service can also help refer to private pay agencies with such supports as transportation, meal preparation, and accessibility.

3. Community Services 211 (24/7)@ www.cominfo-ottawa.org 

This is a non-profit organization, which can refer you to community services you may need. Phoning this number allows you to speak to a friendly volunteer that is willing to find out all kinds of services you may be eligible for. Perhaps you need a ride to get to your dialysis appointments or need a ramp built to allow wheelchair access to your home. The volunteer can tell you about programs available to you and help get the ball rolling. Some of the services may be free, depending on your income bracket, but some must be paid for. So, you may need a referral to a home care provider, or meal on wheels. At 211, a real person answers you!

4. Emergency Services 911

This is truly the number to call if an emergency happens. If I had really broken my hip, as opposed to badly bruising it, this is the number I should have called to be safely transported to the Emergency Room at the local hospital.

5. City Of Ottawa Public Health 613-580-6744 (M-F: 9-4)

At this number, you can speak to a RN who can help you with your health problems. For example, you can discuss a new diagnosis or new symptoms with the nurse. S/he can help enroll you in a course to improve your balance and strength or refer you to other support services. The City of Ottawa runs many programs throughout the city, like mall walking in winter and other recreation programs and activities. For this, 311 is the appropriate number (24/7) However, it is a much used number, so expect to be on hold for a while or have to leave your number for a call back. At the Public Health number above, you can speak directly to a public health nurse. All these services stress that you must call 911 if it is an emergency.

6. Abbotsford House – Community Support Services & Programs 613-230-5730 (M-F: 8:30-4:30) www.glebecentre.ca

For Old Ottawa South, this is our seniors (55+) support centre in the neighbourhood. As well as a full range of exercise classes and other activities, it can provide information and referrals to the appropriate support service. In addition, there are “Friendly Visitor” services to alleviate isolation and loneliness. The Telephone Assurance program (TAP) connects volunteer callers with seniors living alone to reassure, provide health monitoring or just have a friendly chat. Transportation to medical appointments can be arranged for a nominal fee. Home & yard maintenance and cleaning support can be arranged with vetted individuals at a cost of about $25 and up an hour. Otherwise, drop in and check it out for lunch or a coffee.

7. Long-Term Care 310-2222 (M to F: 8-8)

If you are feeling that your health is declining and you are no longer able to care for yourself, and doubt if you can continue to manage in your home, you may need to apply for long-term care. You or a relative or your doctor can phone this number to start this process. The nurse will ask you various questions about your situation before making an appointment for a care coordinator to visit you at home and make a full assessment. This service is provided free through your OHIP card. The care coordinator will help you through the next steps and help you access long-term care, if appropriate.

8. Mental Health 613-722-6914 (24/7)

If you are concerned that you or a relative is suffering from a mental illness, the Crisis Line is the place to call. For example if your relative has behaviour issues, seems to be developing dementia or has a substance abuse problem, phoning this number will connect you with a trained volunteer who can talk to you about your concerns and explain what you should do next. However, a referral from your family doctor is required to access psychiatric services, etc.

9. Health-Information 1-866-797-0000 (24/7)

This is a free confidential service provided by the Province of Ontario. If you are feeling ill and uncertain about what you should do next, the on-duty nurse (RN) can give you advice; s/he will ask you questions to assess whether you need to go to the ER immediately or whether another course of action is best. As I was lying on the kitchen floor, this nurse could have given me advice about ways to check out whether I’d actually broken my hip!

10. Eldercare Emergency Respite 613-234-3383 (24/7)

In an emergency, elderly people who are suffering abuse can benefit from the Elder Abuse Response and Referral Service (EARRS) offered by a non-profit community group, the Nepean, Rideau, Osgoode Community Resource Centre (NROCRC). In this area, this service can be accessed through Visavie, a bilingual business dedicated to helping seniors and their families. It can offer 10 days of free accommodation to an abused person to allow them time to find a new safe place to live.

In less dire circumstances, such companies, operating like real estate agents doing the legwork, can select retirement residences which meet their clients’ specific needs. Their services are free to seniors: the residences pay the company once a placement is made. Rather than recommend a specific business, we suggest you consult the LHIN website where there is a list of companies and residences with suggested questions you may want to consider before deciding what your needs are, and what type of home to choose. Due diligence is necessary. www.healthcareathome.ca/champlain/en/Getting-Care 

Visiting some of these residences when you are still hale and hearty, or attending “Open Houses” will give you an idea what each residence may offer and cost. A local group of independent seniors in their mid- 80s takes an outing together occasionally to visit residences so that they can make their own wishes known and spare their children having to decide for them in an emergency. Be prepared for the unexpected.

Accidents have a way of happening at inconvenient times, with no consideration of busy lives. Most people don’t want to face the idea of having a serious fall, heart attack or stroke. Probably the best policy is to eat healthily, remain physically and mentally active, keep in touch with your relatives and neighbours, but know what to do if something drastic happens to you or a close friend or relative. Resources are there in the community for you to use when necessary, most of them paid for with your taxes. Keep these numbers near your phone and you’ll know whom to call.

Send comments, or suggestions about topics of interest to Old Ottawa South seniors to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SWOOS members Anna Cuylits & Catherine Read consult Karen Anne Blakely (on the left), Director of Abbotsford House.
Photo by Colin Beattie.
Last modified on Wednesday, 29 January 2020 20:05

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