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Retirement residences appeal to people who can live independently, but want to live among other seniors. These residences are designed and built to cater to the desires and lifestyles of seniors, and offer accessible accommodations where mature individuals can feel safe yet remain active.

Distinguishing features
 

  • Vary greatly in size, accommodations, services and amenities
  • Privately owned, but include both for-profit and not-for-profit operators
  • Residents have a great degree of independence, are free to come and go without supervision, and have locks on their doors
  • Typically a private suite with an ensuite washroom
  • Some rooms are equipped with kitchenette, but residences also feature common dining rooms
  • Services generally include 24-hour supervision, meal preparation, laundry/housekeeping, medication distribution and assistance with daily living activities
  • Option to purchase additional support services as needs and preferences change
  • Recreational and social programs
  • Some offer light levels of care, others can cater to seniors with mild cognitive impairment
  • Some offer "assisted living programs" in a number of units that provide an increased level of medical and personal care
  • Some allow small pets
  • Great deal of personal choice and options
  • Waiting lists are more the exception than the rule
  • Month-to-month agreement
  • Private pay, with generally no government subsidy for accommodation or care
  • Generally geared to healthier, more active individuals

  • What do they cost?
  • Broad range of fees; anywhere from $1,000 to $4,500 per month; CMHC survey reported average of $2,190
  • Non-profit retirement residences often offer subsidies for low-income seniors

  • Who is eligible?
  • There is no central processing agency
  • Interested seniors must apply directly to the residence of their choice
  • Applicants may be requested to undergo medical examinations prior to being accepted

  • How are they regulated?
  • Not regulated or funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
  • Fall under the Tenant Protection Act, which requires a written tenancy agreement for each resident.
  • Accommodation rates are subject to rent control
  • Subject to public health regulations, fire and building codes; some jurisdictions have municipal bylaws that pertain to operation of a retirement residence
  • Professional operating standards, inspections and accreditation have been established by the self-regulatory, voluntary membership-based Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA)
  • The Retirement Home Complaints Response and Information Service (CRIS) is a government-funded toll-free hotline that anyone in Ontario can call to get help resolving a complaint about any retirement residence or to get more information on care options available (1-800-361-7254)

  • Points to consider
  • Is living independently becoming more difficult?
  • Are you feeling lonely or isolated?
  • Is maintaining your home becoming too onerous?
  • Are you able to meet your personal care needs?
  • Are daily tasks, such as shopping and cooking, becoming too much of a burden?
  • Are you worried about having a fall or something happening and nobody knowing you need help?
  • Do you want to more easily access recreational and social activities?
  • Do you want to live nearer to other seniors?
  • As a family member or friend, have you noticed someone surviving on tea and toast and neglecting housekeeping or home maintenance?

  • Absolute Musts
  • Plan ahead - research the option of a retirement residence before you need it and discuss it with family members
  • Write down your needs and wants, and explore whether the residence you are considering can meet them
  • Visit each residence on your list. Go back for a second look.
  • Ask to see the kitchen
  • Get a sample of menus
  • Ask for a schedule of the recreational activities
  • Go off the beaten track and check out places like stairwells. Are they clean?
  • Ask staff lots of questions
  • Talk to current residents
  • Request references

  • Some natural concerns
  • I don't want to leave my neighbourhood
  • I don't want to part with my possessions
  • I'm worried about maintaining my independence
  • Will I still be able to use some of the community support services I relied on while I was in my own home?
  • Will a retirement residence continue to accommodate me as my need for support increases?
  • I can't afford to live in a retirement residence; it's cheaper for me to stay in my own home

  • Positives of a retirement residence
  • Opportunities for companionship and socializing
  • Residents are encouraged to bring some home furnishings
  • Residents have a lot of independence and privacy but live in a safe environment
  • Individuals in retirement residences are eligible to apply to a Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) for medical or other personal help, just as when they were living in their own homes
  • Some retirement residences offer different levels of support services or are attached to a long-term care community, and it may be possible to transfer as more care is required
  • After factoring in the cost of property taxes, home maintenance and other current living expenses, the cost of residing in many retirement residences is comparable

  • Quick facts
  • Ontario has 37,279 beds (CMHC survey) and about 900 retirement residences
  • Average age of residents is 83 (CMHC survey)
  • Average size is 40-50 units with some as large as 150-200 units and some as small as 20 units

  • Trends
  • Living spaces are becoming larger; operators don't build shared rooms anymore
  • Increased demand for more varied recreational and social activities; at least one location responded to residents' requests and created wine-making rooms, others have fitness clubs or home theatres

  • How to Assess home health-care services
  • What are the amenities?
  • Do the recreational programs suit my interests and tastes?
  • Is there supervision with medication?
  • Is there a visiting physician and dental service?
  • Is a nurse on staff?
  • Are there suites with a kitchenette?
  • What is the daily or monthly rate?
  • How often have rates increased?
  • Are there charges for the additional services I may want or need?
  • What happens if my health deteriorates?

Compiled with the assistance of the Ontario Retirement Communities Association website and Gord White, ORCA's CEO; the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres website; Statistics Canada's website; Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website; Retirement Homes Report, 2003 Annual Survey, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Retirement residences appeal to people who can live independently, but want to live among other seniors. These residences are designed and built to cater to the desires and lifestyles of seniors, and offer accessible accommodations where mature individuals can feel safe yet remain active.







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