5 Key Differences Between Retirement Homes & Nursing Homes

Some people have a hard time articulating the difference between nursing homes, also known as long-term care homes, and retirement homes, sometimes called assisted living facilities. In some cases these terms are used interchangeably, even by those in the healthcare field. There are, though, many important differences. Read on to discover some general points that should help differentiate the two types of care for senior residents.

1. Governance, Licensing, and Applications

Nursing homes are governed by the Long-Term Care Act, 2007 and licensed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Canada. Applications can only be accessed using Community Care Access Centres (CCAC). Wait times vary depending on each home but typically, wait times for admission can be very long, sometimes a few years.

Retirement homes are governed by the Retirement Home Act, 2010 and licensed by the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority (RHRA). Individuals can apply directly to the homes for which they want to live. Again, wait times vary according to the home chosen, but the wait times are much shorter. In some cases, there are no wait times at all. Admission an even take place within a few days, depending on the circumstances.

2. Accommodations and Care

The accommodations will vary greatly between types of facility. In nursing homes, a basic room can hold three to four people. A semi-private room holds two residents, and a private room holds one resident. Additional costs apply for semi-private and private rooms. These facilities are for those with some serious health issues, and for those who cannot live independently. Support and care is offered for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Staff is on-site 24-hours a day, including nursing staff, and a doctor is usually available as needed. Housekeeping and laundry services are typically included in the fees, and residents are provided with all meals. Recreational activities are planned and optional for all residents.

3. Assisted Living vs. Independent Living

Most people get their own private rooms in retirement homes. Larger suites are typically available for couples. These homes are made for people who need some assistance and there is a nursing staff on-site. A doctor will also make visits. These homes are best for those who can live independently but need help with bathing, mobility, meals, housekeeping, dressing, and taking their meds.

In independent living communities, each resident gets his or her own apartment. These communities are for those who are self-sufficient and active. Optional meals, transportation, and laundry services are available to help these residents to continue to live on their own for as long as possible. Most of these communities offer things like alert necklaces, pull cords, and the like. Staff members are typically on site during the day and it’s normal to see a library, games room workout room, pool, and even movie theatre inside of these places.

4. Alzheimer’s and Dementia

There are also Alzheimer’s and Dementia care communities that are especially designed for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia who need specialized, attentive care. Staff who work there have specialized in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and are trained to keep the residents safe. Specialized therapies like art therapy and music therapy to help maintain or even regain cognitive abilities.

5. Costs and Subsidies

Nursing homes/long-term care facilities are restricted by the province. In Ontario, the current cost for a basic room is $1,819.53 per month; a semi-private room is $2,193.65 per month; a private room is $2,599.11 per month. Short-term stays are also available at $38.72 per day. If a person doesn’t have enough money to pay for the basic rate, they may apply for a subsidy.

Retirement home fees vary and are not set by the government. There are no subsidies available for these homes.

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