Our Impact Why We Exist
Casey House is a clinical leader in providing holistic, expert clinical care for people living with HIV/AIDS, a chronic, complex illness which is challenging to treat and comes with a cost to the people living with it and to their health care team.
Casey House helps people live with HIV and believes providing a compassionate care experience for clients is an essential component to improving physical and mental health.
Our services are designed to improve people’s health and minimize the need for hospital admissions and visits to overcrowded emergency rooms. In addition to our 13-bed inpatient care facility, we offer donor-funded community outreach and in-home nursing programs for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Our Story What We Do
Adapting and evolving to meet urgent health needs
"When you dream, do not be realistic and fit your dream to what exists and is possible. Fit your dream to what should exist, and should be possible." -Casey House founding volunteer June Callwood
Casey House was established 28 years ago by June Callwood and a dedicated group of volunteers because there was no treatment for HIV/AIDS. They founded Casey House as a hospice, expecting that it would be closed by now – a cure found, the disease managed. Unfortunately, there is no cure and infection rates are high, with twice as many people in Canada living with the disease today as when Casey House first opened in 1988.
At that time, many people were dying alone, cut off from the support of family and friends because of stigma and misplaced fear. Our founders’ created a home-like environment in which people could be cared for with dignity and compassion.In the more than 25 years since that time, Casey House has been lovingly maintained as a warm and welcoming environment.
The advent of effective medications means a diagnosis of HIV on its own is no longer a death sentence, but HIV/AIDS continues to be a serious health threat. As infection rates rise and the disease continues to evolve, Casey House remains the best hope for finding better health and a community of support for people living with HIV/AIDS who have, or are at risk of, deteriorating health.
Casey House is continually evolving to meet the changing needs of clients and the health system, and has adapted and expanded beyond hospice care to provide inpatient care, community care and outreach, with a full range of medical and wellness services, from support with medications, managing mental health and early dementia to compassionate end-of-life care. Casey House has a holistic approach to health and well-being which focuses on partnering with other organizations and caring for the whole person, not just their diagnosis of HIV.
We remain the only dedicated HIV/AIDS facility in Toronto to offer an array of integrated health care supports.
Accolades and Accomplishments
"So many of the people we care for are terribly isolated, without any support. Casey House is a community of acceptance. It doesn't matter who you are, or how you've lived your life... you're treated with respect as a human being. It's a gift to be a part of that."—Sintaa, Casey House client support volunteer
Imagine life with a disease that is stigmatizing and socially charged, that you and those close to you know little about. Imagine contending with wildly unpredictable symptoms, many of which are deeply debilitating and can cause you to be unable to work. You live in fear, scared to tell anyone due to stigma and rejection. Medication is expensive. You feel that there is nowhere to turn for help and there is no one who cares. This is the reality for many people living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto.
Casey House community programs help to reduce the need for emergency and acute care for people living with advanced HIV/AIDS in Toronto. By providing access to the best possible care and support for people living with this complex and debilitating disease, Casey House helps to build a stronger, healthier community for all.
Today, 1 in 120 adult Torontonians is HIV-positive, and many will face significant threats to their health and well-being as a result of this illness, for which there remains no cure. In response to this growing need, Casey House is building an integrated health care facility that will greatly expand our capacity to provide care. In addition to our ongoing funding needs for currently offered programs, Casey House is in the final stages of a $10-million capital campaign to raise funds to build this new facility, slated to open in early 2017.
Our Programs How We Do It
- Community Nursing and Social Work Program
- Community Nursing Outreach
- In-patient Care – Care and Comfort Fund
Casey House has grown from an ad-hoc response to a sudden crisis, to an essential and cherished lifeline for people living with advanced HIV/AIDS in our city.
Today we provide care via three streams:
- In-home community nursing and social work for a patient load of approximately 150 people annually. This program is funded nearly entirely by donors. Clients in this program rely on our care to manage their symptoms and regain their strength in order to stay out of hospital.
- Community nursing outreach – Casey House works in partnership with other agencies in our city to provide skilled HIV nursing care at outreach clinics and on board a mobile health bus. These programs serve some of our city’s most marginalized people.
- In-patient specialized care to over 100 people living with advanced HIV/AIDS, whether in the final stages of life or in order to regain strength and return home. These programs receive government funding, however are subsidized and enhanced by donor support.
Community Nursing and Social Work Program
Casey House’s experienced team of registered nurses and social workers provide a variety of health care, psychosocial and referral services for people living with HIV/AIDS, and their loved ones. These essential community supports are funded almost entirely by donor generosity.
Our registered nurses visit clients in the comfort of their own homes to provide nursing treatment, support and care. They provide patient-focused care, whether the goal is to overcome a downturn in health and become stronger, or if the individual requires nursing support, homemaking and counselling at the final palliative stage of this disease.
Many individuals in the community nursing and social work program are ineligible for provincially-funded home care. Many live alone, lacking ties to families or other informal support networks. Without the care of our community health team, these individuals would suffer the strains of social isolation, depression, opportunistic infections and mental health complications in addition to their HIV/AIDS illness – often with nobody to help.
In addition to providing health assessment and direct medical care, Casey House community nurses and social workers assist clients with referrals to other AIDS service organizations and agencies, peer support, psychiatric assessment and volunteer services support. Our nurses also provide health teaching to clients, family members and caregivers about HIV and other disease processes, nutritional needs and how to access medications, health care supplies and vitamins.
Many of the clients we care for lack secure housing, further jeopardizing their health. Casey House nurses and social workers collaborate in partnership with a network of community agencies to connect these individuals to housing supports and additional health care and social supports that are inclusive and culturally appropriate.
Funding and Program Partners
-Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (1% of Casey House revenue 2010-11)
- Fife House
- McEwan Housing and Support Services / LOFT Community Services
This program provides donor-funded in-home community nursing to a patient load of approximately 150 people annually. These individuals rely on care from our nurses and social workers in order to manage their symptoms and regain their strength, so that they can stay out of crisis and out of hospital. Our care team also provides guidance, clinical treatment and homemaking support in the final palliative stages of the disease.
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
- Since 1985, 65% of all positive HIV tests in Ontario have been reported in Toronto.
- After a decline in reported HIV infections in the late 1990s, new known infection rates grew in Ontario by 20% between 2000 and 2008.
- Toronto’s homeless are hospitalized more often than the general population, (the rate is estimated at 23 hospitalizations per 100 people per year, compared to 5 per 100 per year in the general population). They enter hospital with more acute health problems (particularly mental health issues) and stay longer, often because they cannot return to a shelter and have nowhere else to go.
"Jim was so sick, and he was depending on me. It was hard. I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up my strength physically or emotionally. It was all on me. Then he went to Casey House for the first time, and I was even more afraid. I thought he must be going there to die. But I was wrong–Casey House got him back on his feet. It was like a miracle." –Matilda, caregiver
Matilda has been a close friend to Jim for 16 years, ever since she moved into his co-op building. They raised their dogs Herschell and Cleo together, like their children. In that time she’s helped Jim through his struggle with HIV/AIDS, twice nearly losing him to the disease. She cooks for him, and reminds him to take his medications. Twice, she’s cared for him in her home, with help from Casey House registered nurses, until a bed at Casey House became available.
With no partner or family in his life, Jim is lucky to have Matilda and a loyal group of friends who do what they can. They’re all grateful to Casey House for the team of registered nurses, social workers and personal support workers whose skill and dedication enable Jim to remain safe and supported at home.
“Nobody can manage HIV/AIDS by themselves. It’s too hard,” says Matilda. “I’m very glad Casey House is there, to help people like Jim who are very sick in the community, who are at home and alone without help.”
Each year, 150 clients like Jim rely on Casey House’s skilled in-home nursing care to remain safe and supported in their homes. It is only thanks to our donors that this life-saving help is possible.
What You Can Do
Activities a donation will support
Financial support will enable us to continue providing the following essential services:
- Nursing support for people living with advanced HIV/AIDS at home
- Individual counselling around mental health and wellness, substance use, social isolation and depression
- Individual and group support and rehabilitation programs
- Practical assistance and advocacy in applying for housing, disability supports and other related services
- Linking clients to other AIDS services organizations (ASOs) and social service agencies
- Linking clients to peer networks in order to develop a community of support
Your support will enable Casey House to provide specialized HIV/AIDS nursing and social work support, in order to improve the health and well-being of people living with advanced HIV/AIDS. Many of these individuals are deeply marginalized and face significant barriers in accessing health care treatment and other supports. By providing people living with advanced HIV/AIDS with access to the best possible care, your support will keep them out of crisis and help to build a stronger, healthier community for all.