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Is Retirement Home Living Right for You?

“Retirement Homes” has become a generic term that refers to seniors’ congregate living.  It is typically associated with the provision of care and other supportive services.  Because they are private pay, governments tend to ignore them and did not consider them a valuable sector that was part of the solution in dealing with seniors and their need for support.


Because governments “ration” their supply of funded long term care to about 10% of those over 75 wait lists can be long, and retirement homes provide a valuable service for seniors and their families who need help now.  Not only that, governments have set stricter admission criteria to get a funded bed, in their efforts to control costs.

Retirement homes offer accommodation in a residential setting, along with varying levels of care and support services. They typically provide meals, social and recreational programs, laundry and housekeeping services - what we refer to as "Independent Supportive Living".  Many offer a level of personal care with supervision or administration of medications, bathing, dressing and grooming assistance and 24 hour supervision, to allow their residents the ability to age in place - what we refer to as "Assisted Living".  If you have complex medical needs, a retirement home may not be your best choice.

Since retirement homes don’t receive any government funding, residents pay for the full cost of accommodation and services.  Tenure in retirement homes is typically rental, and rates are subject to rent control.  And because they cater to a more independent resident, they provide a more stimulating and less institutional environment.

Tips on Choosing a Retirement Home

For each retirement home you consider, start with the basic questions of cost and location:

  • What is your monthly/annual budget?
  • What services are included in the base price?
  • What additional services – and at what cost - are offered?
  • Are there transportation options for shopping, medical appointments and social outings?

Identify your top retirement home candidates using The Care Guide and TheCareGuide.com, and then rate each one.

Don’t forget to ask for an Information Package from each retirement home you visit.  This document clearly sets out what services are included in the posted monthly rental rates and what services are available at additional cost. 

Schedule a tour of each residence.

•           is it clean?

•           is it secure, e.g. is the front desk manned 24 hours a day?

•           what social and recreational programs are offered?

•           ask if you can wander around on your own to get a better feel for the environment

•           ask residents about what they like and dislike

•           ask for references

•           Food quality is really important – definitely stay for a meal.

•           Many retirement homes offer short-term trial stays ranging from a couple of nights to a few weeks: an excellent way to "test the waters" and see if it's right for you.

Government Regulation and Retirement Homes.

There are regulations under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 that create standards of care and safety and resident rights.  These include a licensing requirement for retirement homes with more than six units and the establishment of complaints procedures.

Some municipalities have their own retirement home bylaws and licensing requirements.

If you need more help in finding an appropriate retirement home, call us at 1-800-311-CARE (2273) or email us at info@thecareguide.com.

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