Choosing the right senior care in Alberta

The goal of Alberta Health Services is that seniors remain in their own homes in the communities they are familiar with for as long as possible. To make that happen, AHS in conjunction with Alberta Health and Wellness and the Alberta Seniors and Community Supports are working to provide levels of care that allow individuals to retain privacy and independence for as long as possible. 

Options for seniors’ care include Independent Living, Supportive Living, Home Care and Long-term care. The first step toward accessing these services for yourself or your loved one is to request an assessment through the local Home Care Program. A Home Care Registered Nurse will create a ‘plan of care’ with you; your family members may be involved if you wish. This plan will support your abilities and your lifestyle and when your needs change, your plan of care will change along with you. 

This is a summary of care options for seniors in the Province of Alberta.

Independent Living Facilities (also known as Retirement Residences) – are ideal for seniors who are relatively independent, but need minor help with daily living activities. These activities might include: meals, light housekeeping, laundry, social and recreational programs. Such residences can range in cost from $1500 to $5000/month depending on the location, amenities, staffing level, and service package options.

Home Care
The Home Care option has successfully enabled many seniors that wish to age in their own homes retain their independence. Your Home Care RN will have access to health-care professionals such as physiotherapists, pharmacists and others depending upon your needs.

Supportive Living
Options under the supportive living umbrella include Enhanced Living, Designated Assisted Living and Personal Care Homes. All of these are family-friendly home environments where assistance is available around the clock. Each individual senior is able to retain their independence and families can have peace of mind knowing that medical staff is onsite and available. 

Designated Assisted Living (DAL)
DALs are supportive home environments where seniors enjoy independence and privacy knowing that personal care and support is available around the clock and it is an excellent option for seniors with a range of health requirements. DAL clients have predictable medical needs that may be managed safely by Licensed Practical Nursing Staff under the direction of a Home Care Registered Nurse.  

FAQs about Designated Assisted Living in Alberta

What does ‘designated’ indicate?
‘Designated’ indicates that the residence is operated as a partnership between a home provider and the Alberta Health Services.

Who will provide nursing services?
Your Home Care Registered Nurse will coordinate your plan of care together with you on an ongoing basis to ensure that you retain as much independence as your abilities allow. Licensed Practical Nurses and Health Care Aides provide on-site care; additional health care professionals are available depending on the situation. 

Can couples live together in a DAL?
Couples who wish to remain living together are encouraged to do so in the Designated Assisted Living residence.  

Will I have to cook?
DALs have a central dining room where home cooked meals are prepared for you according to Canada’s Food Guide; if you have special dietary requirements, they will be accommodated. You’ll also have the option of preparing meals and snacks in your suite.

Will I do the cleaning?
Cleaning of the kitchen, washroom and floors is provided once per week and additional housekeeping is available for a fee.

Enhanced Living: When living at home is not a safe option and you require a higher level of care, your Home Care Registered Nurse may recommend the Enhanced Living option. Enhanced Living may be provided in a DAL, a lodge, or other supportive living space in Alberta. 

Long-term Care – for seniors with complex health needs that cannot be provided safely in either their home or a supportive living environment, long-term care is available. Under the direction of a family physician with a hospital-like format of care, in long-term care, the senior will have a Registered Nurse supervise their care including support staff appropriate for the needs of the individual. Examples of situations that may need long-term care are end of life care needs, complex medication management, inconsistent behavior that places others at risk and complex nursing care.   

This is a brief overview and additional information about designated assisted living in Alberta is available on the Alberta Health Services website or from your family physician.

By Alice Lucette

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