Navigating senior care options can be difficult, especially considering the different terminology used across the country. It’s important for families to understand the difference between retirement communities (also referred to as retirement homes) and long term care communities (which used to be called nursing homes).
Learn more about retirement home vs. long-term care by province.
Although there are some exceptions, across Canada retirement communities are often privately run communities where the senior or their family pay rent (and sometimes other fees) to live in the community and receive personalized care. There are different types of retirement communities available and seniors and their families should choose a community based on the senior’s health, level of independence, medical needs and preferred lifestyle.
Talk with a Senior Living Advisor
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Across Canada you will find:
Designed for seniors who need care 24/7, long-term care communities are available for eligible seniors. Social service agencies assess senior needs and determine eligibility. Unlike retirement communities, long-term care communities are funded by the province. Provinces fund medical and support services and residents pay for their room and board. No one is refused access on the ability to pay and subsidies are available for seniors and their families who cannot pay the full room and board fees.
Long-term care communities are operated by a number of groups, including:
Long-term care communities are similar to assisted living communities, although they are equipped to care for seniors with more serious health issues. Personal and 24-hour nursing care is provided, as well as access to doctors and other health care providers. Living arrangements can vary from shared ward-style rooms to private rooms, depending on availability and affordability. Support and care is available for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Like other communities for seniors, recreational activities are planned and similar to an assisted living community there are often central dining rooms or shared common rooms. Housekeeping and laundry are available.
Long-term care usually offers fewer amenities than the retirement community types mentioned above. For example, most do not have swimming pools, libraries or exercise rooms. Funding is one reason for the fewer amenities, but also most seniors do not have the mobility required to take advantage of them.
Home care is another option for seniors that is sometimes subsidized by the province. Home care allows seniors to age-in-place in their home and communities by providing a nurse or personal care worker who comes to visit and help the senior with a variety of tasks from taking medication, bathing and personal care to shopping, cleaning and cooking.
All provinces regulate long-term care and retirement communities. During your search for a retirement community, long-term care or home care provider, you should familiarize yourself with the following organizations in your province:
Alberta Seniors (Information on seniors programs, subsidies and housing.)
BC Seniors Living Association (Identifies retirement communities that adhere to the highest industry standards.)
Manitoba Home Care Program (Manitoba has the longest standing and most comprehensive provincial home care program in Canada. Manitoba’s Home Care Program helps seniors who are living at home or living in a retirement community. Seniors who are eligible may receive subsidized or free home care services.)
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
All Quebec Retirement Communities must:
What was your family’s experience like choosing a retirement home or long-term care? Share stories about your experiences with us in the comments below.