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Ontario Retirement Homes - 6 Things to Know Before You Move In

Evaluating your Retirement Home options? It’s important to have all the facts like pricing, staffing levels and inspection reports. Did you know the government mandates Retirement Homes disclose information to prospective residents and residents? Get informed now.

Ontario Retirement Homes - 6 Things to Know Before You Move In

Retirement Home - What You Need to Know Before You Move infograohic

When my parents were unable to live independently in their family home, my family struggled to find suitable senior living options that met their assisted living needs. I researched the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 (the “Act”) and the Ontario Regulation 166/11 (the “Regulation") to get a better understanding of how these types of facilities are owned and operated. I’ve written a series of guides and blog posts using my research, supplemented with experience (see ‘Pro Tips’) gained supporting my parents.

Now you know the basics about Retirement Home living, learn what you need to know before moving in.

What information should available about the Retirement Home?

Pro Tip – When visiting senior housing options like Retirement Homes, expect to receive colourful marketing materials as part of the tour. It’s important to know the Act and Regulations mandate specific information be accessible to prospective residents. Ask for this information on your next tour. Don’t be blinded by the slick packages and sales pitches. Take the time to read materials and ask follow-up questions as needed.

A licensee[i] ensures information is made available in the Home, in an easily accessible location.

  • Package of information provided to residents when they move into the Home;
  • copies of the most recent final inspection report prepared by an inspector;
  • orders made by the Registrar[ii]  with respect to the Home that are in effect or been made within the past 24 months;
  • decisions of the Tribunal or the Divisional Court issued against the Home within the past 24 months.
    Minutes of the most recent Residents’ Council meeting;
  • Residents’ Bill of Rights.
  • licensee’s licence for the Home;
  • an explanation of the measures to be taken in case of fire;
  • contact information for the Authority[ii];
  • statement as to whether or not services in the Home are provided in French or in any other languages in addition to English and, if so, a list of those languages;
  • explanation of the procedures to be followed in the case of an evacuation;
  • information about reporting to the Registrar matters relating to the care and safety of the residents of the Home; and
  • statement allowing an inspector or an investigator to inspect, copy and remove records containing a resident’s personal information, including personal health information, from the Home for the purpose of determining whether the licensee is in compliance with the requirements.

What is the Resident's Bill of Rights?

Pro Tip – A Resident’s Bill of Rights is important to understand – it covers topics like safety, privacy and licensee requirements to act in a certain manner, including information disclosure on a timely basis.

The Resident's Bill of Rights consists of the right to,

  • know what care services are provided in the Home and how much they cost;
  • be informed in advance of any increases in charges for care services provided in the Home;
  • receive advance notice of a decision of the licensee to discontinue providing a particular care service,
  • have the licensee take reasonable steps to facilitate the resident’s access to any external care providers that the resident needs, if the resident receives the notice of discontinuance of a particular care service and indicates that he or she is going to continue to reside in the Home;
  • have the licensee take reasonable steps to find appropriate alternate accommodation for the resident, if the resident receives the notice of discontinuance of a particular care service and the resident is going to cease to reside in the Home;
  • apply for publicly funded care services and assessments;
  • be informed about and to apply for care services and assessments from an external care provider;
  • Choice of care services provided by staff who are suitably qualified and trained to provide the services;
  • participate fully in making any decision concerning any aspect of his or her care;
  • participate fully in the development, implementation, review and revision of his or her plan of care;
  • give or refuse consent to any treatment, care or service for which his or her consent is required by law and to be informed of the consequences of giving or refusing consent;
  • not to be restrained except in accordance with the common law;
  • not to be confined except in accordance with the Act or the common law;
  • be afforded privacy in treatment and in caring for his or her personal needs;
  • live in a safe and clean environment where he or she is treated with courtesy and respect and in a way that fully recognizes the resident’s individuality and respects the resident’s dignity;
  • have his or her lifestyle and choices respected and to freely pursue his or her social, cultural, religious, spiritual and other interests as long as the resident’s lifestyle, choices and pursuits do not substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the Home for all usual purposes by the licensee and other residents;
  • raise concerns or recommend changes in policies and services on behalf of oneself or others to the Authority or any other person without interference and without fear of coercion, discrimination or reprisal, whether directed at the resident or anyone else; and
  • know if the Home is also a care home within the meaning of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, and whether the residents therefore have rights and responsibilities as tenants under that Act. 

What agreement should be signed before moving into a Retirement Home?

Pro Tip: A written agreement should be signed by you and/or your substitute decision maker before moving into the Home. This agreement will describe your rights and obligations like rent. Make sure you review this closely and ask the licensee for clarification if you have any questions.

Before moving into a Retirement Home, a resident (and/or their substitute decision maker) and the licensee should enter into a written agreement with these notices:

Pink clive flowers with green foliage

  • allowing an inspector or an investigator to inspect, copy and remove records containing a resident’s personal information, including personal health information, from the Home for the purpose of determining whether the licensee is in compliance with the requirements;
  • whether or not the licensee will indemnify the resident against loss of the resident’s possessions and if so, the details of the indemnification, including the extent to which the resident’s possessions are insured by the licensee; and
  •  resident was provided the package of information, and the information was accurate and complete on the date of the written agreement.


What is a Resident's Council in a Retirement Home?

The licensee should allow the residents of the Home to establish a Residents’ Council for the Home consisting of only residents of the Home. This Council has the power to,

Pink coneflower with green folliage

  • inform residents of their rights and obligations under the Act;
  • inform residents of the rights and obligations of the licensee under the Act and under any agreement relating to the Home;
  • attempt to resolve disputes between the licensee and residents;
  • sponsor and plan activities for resident’s subject to any requirements that the licensee may have regarding the licensee’s liability arising from any such activities;
  • collaborate with community groups and volunteers concerning activities for residents;
  • advise the licensee of any concerns or recommendations the Council has about the operation of the Home;
  • provide advice and recommendations to the licensee regarding what the residents would like to see done to improve care or the quality of life in the Home;
  • report to the Registrar any concerns and recommendations that in the Council’s opinion ought to be brought to the Registrar’s attention; and
  • act as a tenants’ association under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.

Information package provided to all Retirement Home residents

Orange butterfly sunning itself on stone patioAt a minimum, the licensee ensures resident's receives an information package containing:
  • the Residents’ Bill of Rights;
  • statement that, if the Home also falls within the meaning of a care home as defined in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, nothing in the Act overrides or affects the provisions of theResidential Tenancies Act, 2006 that would otherwise apply with respect to the Home as a care Home;
  • the licensee’s policy to promote zero tolerance of abuse and neglect of residents;
  • the licensee’s procedure for complaints;
  • the licensee’s policy regarding the use of personal assistance services devices for residents;
  • the licensee’s policy regarding the confinement of residents to a secure unit of their Home and a description of the rights of residents in relation to the confinement, including the right to consult a rights adviser;
  • the name, telephone number and e-mail address of the licensee;
  • information about the role of the Authority and its contact information;
  • information about the Residents’ Council, including any information that the Residents’ Council provides for inclusion in the package;
  • an explanation of the protection afforded for whistleblowing;
  • information relating to the contents of the written agreement that each resident receives before moving in to the Home;
  • an itemized list of the different types of accommodation and care services provided in the Home and their prices;
  • statement that a resident may purchase or apply for care services, other services, programs or goods from external care providers;
  • information about the licensee’s process for assisting residents to purchase or apply for care services and other services, programs or goods from external providers;
  • information regarding the rights of residents if the licensee chooses to reduce or discontinue the care services that the licensee provides to residents;
  • disclosure of any non-arm’s length relationships that exist between the licensee and external care providers;
  • contact information for the local health integration network within the meaning of the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 for the geographic area in which the Home is located;
  • information relating to the assessments required to prepare a plan of care, including a resident’s right to apply for publicly funded assessments;
  • information about the licensee’s process for assisting a resident in his or her transition to a long-term care home or other place of residence;
  • information as to whether the Home has automatic sprinklers in each resident’s room;
  • information relating to staffing, including nighttime staffing levels and qualifications of staff of the Home; and
  • a statement as to whether the Home is required to have a resident-staff communication and response system and whether the Home has such a system and, if so, details of the system; and

The licensee is required to give to every resident of the Home a statement about,

Pink thistle with bee pollinating

  • the licensee assessing a resident when the resident moves into the Home and then every six months thereafter, but only with the resident's consent; 
  • the residents having the right to form a Residents’ Council if one does not yet exist;
  • whether the licensee offers programs, activities or services to encourage the mental stimulation of residents and, if so, information about them;
  • whether the licensee offers programs, activities or services to address the social, recreational and spiritual needs of residents and, if so, information about them;
  • how the licensee reduces the incidence of infectious disease outbreaks, including the need for and method of maintaining proper hand hygiene and the need for and process of reporting infectious illness;
  • the licensee strategies implemented to reduce or mitigate the risk of falls in common areas of the Home;
  • the Act prohibiting the licensee and external care providers from restraining a resident in any way including by the use of a physical device or by the administration of a drug except as permitted by the Act when immediate action is necessary to prevent serious bodily harm to a resident or to others;
  • whether the licensee allows a resident of the Home to entrust money to the care of the licensee, and if so, a copy of the written trust account policy and procedures; and
  • the Act not requiring the licensee to audit trust accounts into which the licensee is required to deposit money entrusted into the licensee’s care but that the Registrar may order the licensee to audit any such trust account.

[i] Licensee is the individual or corporation assigned a license by the Registrar to operate a Home.
[ii] Registrar as defined in the Act is the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (the 'Authority')


If you’re looking for more information about this topic or if you want assistance identifying a senior living option that fits your needs, contact us for a free one-hour consultation.

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