What Is The Difference Between A Retirement Home And A Long Term Care (Nursing) Home?©
By Karen Henderson
Founder, Long term Care Planning network


Many Ontarians do not understand the difference between a retirement home and a long term care home; the media often muddies the water even more when they incorrectly refer to the accommodation rates for these two living options.

Firstly, retirement homes provide privately owned and privately paid rental accommodation for seniors who can function independently and can direct their own care. These facilities provide home-like accommodation, housekeeping, meals and organized activities. There are no admission requirements, other than the ability to pay anywhere from $2500 to over $6000 per month, depending on type of accommodation chosen. There are no government subsidies, and minimal care is included in the monthly rent. Ontario retirement homes offer four main tiers of care services:

– Independent living: provides the option of adding care services as required
– Assisted living: includes an added fee for care services such as help with
bathing, dressing or medication
– Dementia or memory care: some facilities offer a section or floor dedicated to
those with mild dementia
– Short term stays: for seniors who want to try out retirement home living, or for those who need post-hospital, acute care before returning to their own homes

Seniors apply directly to a home, which sets its own fees; some residences may have waiting lists.

Long term care homes (or nursing homes) provide subsidized 24/7 personal/nursing care and supervision for those who are frail, chronically ill and/or suffer from dementia, and who cannot manage their own care. Seniors/families need to apply through their local LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) and meet set criteria for admission, which include:
– Being aged 18+
– Having a valid OHIP card
– Having care needs that cannot be met in the home or through community-based services

Long term care homes may be owned and operated by private corporations, charities, cities, religious or ethnic groups; however, all fall under Ontario government legislation which sets the monthly rates, as well as care and nutrition requirements. Residents pay for their accommodation (co-payment), while the province pays for care, food and activity programs. As of July 1, 2019 accommodation rates are:
– Ward accommodation (3+ beds in a room): $1891.31
– Semi-private accommodation: $2280.04
– Private accommodation: $2701.61

If a senior doesn’t have enough income to pay for a ward level bed (basic), he may be eligible for a subsidy through the Long-Term Care Home Rate Reduction Program.

Presently, there are over 35,000 Ontarians waiting for a bed in long term care; the average wait time is about five months.

Resources
– Senioropolis https://www.senioropolis.com/assets/2019_GUIDE.pdf
– Advantage Ontario www.advantageontario.ca – click on Resources
– Local Health Integration Networks http://www.lhins.on.ca
– The Care Guide www.thecareguide.com