Selecting a retirement home can be a difficult and intimidating process for you or a loved one, it’s a big change to one’s life. To make the transition seamless and pleasant, here’s a list of six selection criteria when touring a retirement home.

1. Types of Retirement Homes

There are four types of retirement homes in Ontario according to the regulatory body Ontario Retirement Community Association (ORCA). The first type is called an independent supported living home. These are homes for those looking to live independently with care services close by if needed. The second type of retirement home is called assisted living where extra care services are actively used by residents. The third type of retirement home is for specialized dementia/memory care.

This type of retirement home provides care to residents with dementia of any level. Lastly, the fourth type is a short term stay retirement home. Certain retirement homes offer potential residents short term stay packages for the resident to experience the home’s lifestyle on a trial basis. ORCA has specified different types of retirement homes; however, each home is unique. To help narrow down your options, making a list of the services you or a loved one desire is a good way to choose the homes you’d like to tour and live in.

(Note: other Canadian provinces or international locations may have other types of retirement homes and affiliated services.)

2. Location

Where the retirement home is located is crucial for several reasons. Most residents want to be in a home that is close to their family and friends. In addition, residents requiring frequent medical assistance will need to be close to facilities that offer the services they require, for example specialized doctor’s offices and hospitals.

The building style and scenery is something to consider as well to ensure the individual is comfortable in their new home. Others may want to live in a retirement home close to golf courses, national parks or any hobby they plan to participate in.

3. Activities

Retirement homes provide opportunities for the residents living at the home to participate in organized activities. The nature and type of activities provided are an important factor to consider since you or a loved one will be taking part. Some examples of activities provided in retirement homes are trips to a nearby mall, musical performances, games and physical activities. Locations nearby should be considered as well, such as libraries and restaurants, as this serves as a secondary activity for residents.

4. Size

The size of a retirement home is another factor to consider because it has an impact on the communal feeling of the home. Larger homes can feel less intimate than smaller homes. On the other hand, for more sociable people, a larger home may be preferable.

5. Pricing

Naturally, the more services you require, the more expensive your monthly fees will be. Most retirement homes will charge a flat fee for accommodation and other services will be added to the fee as each individual requires. Regardless of whether you require the additional services or not, make sure to enquire about each service’s pricing to avoid unexpected fees in the future.

6. Reviews

While it is unfortunate, some retirement homes are very poorly run and have had legal or regulatory violations in the past. Part of your research process should include looking up the retirement home you plan on touring or living in for red flags. Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) is a resource that you can use to look up a retirement home’s status and history for locations in Ontario. During your tour, any bad vibes from staff or the home’s environment can be an indicator of poor service, go with your gut!


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Alison is one of the writers working at Ultimate Business News. If you have any media inquiries, please contact Alison for further questions and feedback.

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