How To Choose A Retirement Home©
By Karen Henderson
Founder, Long Term Care Planning Network

There are over 750 licensed retirement homes and communities in Ontario, and many new ones are under construction. They are ideal for older persons in relatively good health, who cannot or do not want to remain in their own homes. Deciding to move from one’s home of perhaps many years to a retirement home can be a big change; however, if you take your time and do your research, you will be able to enjoy a lifestyle that offers independence, dignity and the freedom to live your life as you see fit.

So, how do you choose a home that fits your care needs and lifestyle?

– Assess your current and future needs

With help from a health care professional and/or family, determine what level of care you need—are you completely independent, or do you need help with some activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing or medication management? How do you see your health in 10 years?

– Determine your budget

Each retirement home sets its own monthly fee. Ensure you understand what is included in the quoted fee. If your fee includes care services, understand exactly how many hours and what types of care you are paying for.
Based on the type of accommodation you select, and amount of care you may need, monthly rates can range from $2500 to over $6000. There are no government subsidies. CCRA allows retirement home residents to make a claim on their annual tax return for the care services they receive as a medical expense, provided the required documentation is submitted for qualifying services.

– Decide where/how you want to live

Do you want to stay in your community, or perhaps move closer to family or friends? Do you want to live in a small residence/community, or do you want the facilities offered by the bigger, national chains?

– Determine your wants

Retirement living residences vary greatly in location, size, accommodation, cost factors, services, amenities and staffing. How important are luxurious meals prepared by a chef? How important are social outings and activities? What about special amenities such as a fitness room, swimming pool, spa, salon, tuck shop etc.?

– How reputable is the home?

Do your research; go on-line and check out the home(s). Check the company’s reputation, and ensure it belongs to an accredited association such as the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA). You will be required to sign a contract; a lawyer can help negotiate and understand contracts, to ensure you will receive the services you are verbally promised.

– Take a tour

Call the homes that interest you, and set up a time for a tour and a meal.
While there, talk to the residents you meet; ask them how long they have lived in the home, what they like best about it and what could be made better. Ensure you have a consistent list of questions to ask at every home (see resources), so you can make accurate comparisons. Ask for copies of newsletters and recreation schedules/social calendar that you can take home and review. Finally, does the home feel like a good fit? If it does, you can determine if there is a wait list, and proceed with the application process.

– Consider a trial stay

Some people book a short trial stay at the homes they are considering. If you choose to do this, consider staying over a weekend, as the atmosphere and activity level may be quite different than during the week.

– Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) (1 855 275-7472)
– Retirement Home Checklist
– Comfort Life
– Senioropolis
– The Care Guide