When shopping for a retirement residence consider visiting several and go prepared with a list of questions. Keeping notes and gaining a strong "feel" for each place will help you choose the residence best suited to your personal needs and interests.
Retirement and residential care homes vary in location, size, price, amenities, programs and services. The mix of staff and residents also contributes greatly to the "personality" of each place. That's why it's important to look beyond the physical structure and spend the necessary time to ask questions, talk with people and generally "sample the product".
We suggest several ideas, which should help you make the right personal choice:
While touring a care home, talk to the residents about their perceptions of the place
Plan to stay or return another day for a complimentary lunch or dinner
Don't limit your tour to suite and common areas. Ask to see the kitchen
If you would really like to "kick the tires" enquire about a trial visit or an overnight stay
Ask for resident family references you can contact for their opinions
Beyond the standard tour, check stairwells and other less traveled areas to see how well they're cleaned and maintained
Ask for copies of any paperwork required for admission along with samples of menus, activity calendars and newsletters
Use the following checklist to identify the types of services and amenities available:
Tray Service to Suites
Physician on Call
Visiting Dental Service
Visiting Lab Service
Assisted Living Services
RN/RPN on staff
Private Duty Nursing
Central Dining Room
Air Conditioned Common Areas
Private Dining Rm/Area
Fire and/or Smoke Alarms
Heating: Individually Controlled
Air Condition: Individually Controlled
Call Bell System
Fire and/or Smoke Alarms
Sprinkler in each suite
Ask the following questions?
How close is the nearest hospital, medical clinic, dentist office?
Are there churches, parks, shops and seniors' centres nearby?
How accessible is public transportation?
Is there an accessable transit service?
What is the daily/monthly rate?
Are there charges for additional services you may want or need?
Is phone or cable service part of your package?
Is there a resident petty cash account with separate accounting?
What type of notice period is required should you need, or decide to move?
How often are rates for accommodation and/or services increased?
What is the average annual rate of increase over the last few years?
Are wheelchairs and walkers accepted?
What about scooters?
Are any forms of oxygen therapy allowed?
Is a health assessment required?
What happens if your health deteriorates?
Is the residence a member in good standing with the Ontario Residential Care Association?
Has the residence undergone and successfully met the ORCA Standards Evaluation Guidelines?
Is there a Standards Award Certificate and Members Certificate displayed?
And, are the dates on both certificates current?
YOUR GUARANTEE OF QUALITY
To qualify for membership in the Ontario Residential Care Association (ORCA), a care home must undergo and meet a comprehensive standards evaluation.
Check for a dated ORCA membership and standards certificate. You can verify current membership by calling us, toll-free, 1-800-361-7254.
What to consider when searching for senior housing
Retirement homes 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.
Here's a primer on what you'll find in a typical retirement home:
Some distinguishing features of retirement homes:
Vary greatly in size, accommodations, services and amenities
Privately owned, but include both for-profit and not-for-profit operators
Retirement home 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
Private pay, with generally no government subsidy for accommodation or care
As opposed to long-term care, retirement homes are generally geared to healthier, more active individuals
Some positives of retirement homes
Many people are leery of even considering life inside a retirement residence, holding a stereotypical view of "nursing homes." However, you need to think about positive things that retirement homes offer:
There are 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.
Absolute musts when considering a retirement home
Plan ahead: research the option of a retirement home 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?
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