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Residential Choices, other than staying at home, range widely, from independent, age segregated apartments with minimal services, to progressively higher levels of services and supports, including care services in assisted living floors and wings to long term, nursing care.

In Canada, nursing homes are usually for the most frail in our society, they are government regulated and admittance is regulated through central or one point access centres, .  You can’t apply directly and are usually referred by a health care professional.  Long term care is not covered under our “universal access” Canada Health Act, but fall under Provincial jurisdiction, which is why we have such a wide divergence of terms, offerings and prices.  The government usually funds the care and the resident pays for room and board, and in some provinces for part of the care.  Recent financial and budgetary pressures have resulted in governments accepting only the frailest and limiting the supply of beds to about 10% of those over 75.  Wait times can be from several months to several years.

Retirement Homes are private pay choices, and offer a wide variety of choice - both in terms of the accommodation and services.  You can apply directly.  Since they cater to older adults and in many instances offer a wide variety of service choices, including care, governments have taken steps to introduce regulations and standards to protect consumers.    The resident pays for accommodation and services.  The supply is driven by demand.

In Ontario for example, the private pay industry grow in response to no new nursing home supply growth between 1986 and 2000.  Wait times for a bed were long and families desperately needed care for an aging parent.  In 1986 the supply was 57,500 beds, about 150 beds per 1,000 over 75.  By 1998, when the new tenders for 20,000 new long term care beds were announced, that supply was down to 88 per 1,000 because of the growth in senior populations.  Those 20,000 new beds, mostly built by 2006, resulted in 99 beds per 1,000 in 2006.  Retirement homes grew by 16,000 new spaces during the 1986 to 1998 period to meet the need.  Source: Care Planning Partners.

So, if you need high levels of care verging on health care, a long term care or nursing home bed is for you, if you can get in.

If you need lesser supports, and some care, or need to find a care solution until a place in a long term care home can be found, retirement housing is for you.

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