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Comparing Retirement Living Options

People attempting to determine the type of care they need for themselves or a loved one are often unaware of, or confused by, the difference in terminology with respect to levels of care. The chart below is meant to assist in quickly clarifying the difference but for greater detail please see the sections related to each topic in our publication the Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living. Please keep in mind that no decision for placement of any kind, can or should be made without the consent and knowledge of the person involved, if they are competent.

Level Of Care Key Features

  • private rental apartment; may have Rent Geared to Income
  • may have some Supportive Housing type services, meals for purchase, social programs, visiting MD

  • independent apartments with a care component
  • 24/7 availability of support workers – can assist with meal preparation and homemaking
  • subsidies available in some buildings
called Assisted
Living, Care
Homes, Retirement Communities)

  • privately owned and operated (some are owned by not-for-profit organizations)
  • accommodation is mostly private – rooms, suites or apartments, some homes have semi-private units, very few homes have ward type units
  • services provided usually include: social/recreational activities, housekeeping, most/some/all meals, minimal assistance with personal care (may be a fee involved), 24 hour staff – additional care may have to be purchased
  • Liscensed and regulated by the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority
  • Must abide by the Retirement Homes Act, 2010; Residential Tenancies Act, Health Protection and Promotion Act, Fire and Building Codes
  • apply directly to the home
  • cost is determined by individual homes based on various factors
  • No government subsidies available
Long-Term Care
Homes (this
includes Nursing

  • ownership/operation may be private, not-for profit, municipal or charitable
  • provide 24 hour assistance with personal care, eating, bathing, medications, medical/nursing needs
  • amenities, recreational activities vary; housekeeping, laundry services and meals are included
  • cost of care/support is covered by the government of Ontario. Residents pay room & board portion (called the “co-payment”)
  • standardized rates across the province set by the Ministry of Health and Long- Term Care; subsidies available for those unable to pay ward rate
  • may be waiting lists
  • apply through local CCAC – maximum of 5 choices, first one to come available must be accepted
  • residents must be medically stable but usually require care of some kind; may be cognitively impaired
  • all homes are licensed, regulated and funded by the provincial government. The governing legislation is the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007
Complex Continuing
Care formerly called
Chronic Care

  • hospital-like facilities
  • patient must have very heavy care needs that cannot be managed in a Long- Term Care Home, be medically unstable or have complex issues that require frequent nursing/medical attention
  • usually admitted directly from an acute care hospital


Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW




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