Assisted Living Care Homes

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Living Arrangements |

Assisted living (or supportive housing) refers to a broad range of care homes primarily designed for seniors. These “congregate-living” residences combine housing, meals, and supports such as housekeeping and recreational activities. Most offer transportation for shopping, outings and medical appointments. Some also assist with personal care, such as bathing and dressing, and administering routine medications. 

You can rent, own or have a life lease in an assisted living care home. Some provinces provide “designated assisted living” facilities, where the resident pays the accommodation charges and the health authority pays for personal care and support services.


“Assisted living” care homes provide for those who need regular personal assistance but do not require the complex range of professional nursing services available in a long term care home.

What standards exist in assisted living care homes?
British Columbia was the first province in Canada to regulate assisted living residences through the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (2004). An Assisted Living Registrar was appointed to protect the health and safety of seniors and people with disabilities in assisted living residences. Other provinces have followed suit, and developed accommodation standards for all care homes.

What are the costs?
Many assisted living developments can be beyond the means of low- to modest -income seniors, but more choice is becoming available. Subsidized housing, available in most provinces, can be an affordable option for low-income seniors. These publicly funded lodges usually provide accommodation, meals, housekeeping and social activities. Costs and eligibility criteria differ between the provinces – and even among different lodges.

How do you choose an assisted living facility?
You will find considerable variation in services, philosophy, and staffing in assisted living or supportive housing. We recommend your family visit several local residences, and ask many questions, before choosing the facility that best meets your specific needs.

Here are TWO very important questions everyone should ask:


1.     Can a resident remain in the setting if physical and emotional needs change? Ask: Why do people move out?

2.     What emergency contacts are available 24-hours/day? Is someone on site or do residents rely on family or emergency response systems?

Also, speak with current residents and their family members about their experiences. If possible, arrange for a short-term stay.

Quality of meals is important for physical health, and socialization around meal times can contribute to emotional health. Ask to have lunch at the facility to get a feeling for the atmosphere and culture. Ask about the menu: how often it is changed, what choices are available, and who ensures that meals and snacks are nutritious.

Finding an appropriate assisted care home can play an important role in improving the quality of life for seniors and increasing peace of mind for family members.



Vol.2, No.19; © ElderWise Inc. 2006

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