BC Assisted Living vs. Other Senior Housing Options

BC Assisted Living vs. Other Senior Housing Options

To help you make an informed decision about whether BC Assisted Living is the right option for you, this is a comparison between Assisted Living and other housing options available to seniors in British Columbia.

Reference to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act will be abbreviated as CCALA for this document only. 

Assisted Living in BC

Assisted Living is a housing option designed for seniors who are able to live semi-independently and safely in a supportive environment, and also need a level of personal assistance with day-to-day activities.

Levels of care
Assisted Living in British Columbia is a middle option between Home Care in private homes or Supportive Housing and Facility Care (such as residential care, complex care, or community care). Hospitality services are provided in a Supportive Housing residence but personal assistance is provided at the support level only. A Community Care Facility has the highest level of complex care with 24-hour support and assistance available to residents.

The key components of BC Assisted Living

  • To provide accommodation, hospitality services and personal assistance to adults who may need a hand with day-to-day activities but are still able to make most of their own decisions
  • Is accessible through publicly subsidized and private-pay options
  • Is regulated in the province of BC under the CCALA

Protection to Assisted Living residents
Residents of Assisted Living have greater protection under the CCALA than what they would have in a private home or Supportive Housing and they do not require the level of regulation of a Community Care Facility.

Registration and Licensing
Operators of an Assisted Living residence must apply for registration and the residence must meet the criteria as outlined in the CCALA; this differs from Community Care in that Community Care Facilities do not need to register as they must be licensed or designated under the Act.    


Supportive Housing in BC

Assisted Living is similar to Supportive Housing in that hospitality services are available in both home environments.

Key differences

  • In Supportive Housing all five hospitality services may not always be provided by the operator of the home, however in Assisted Living, the operator offers Hospitality Services as required under the CCALA
  • In Supportive Housing, personal assistance is offered at the support level only; Assisted Living residences offer assistance with day-to-day tasks as agreed upon by the resident and the operator
  • In Supportive Housing personal assistance services may be purchased from an outside provider (other than the housing provider); in Assisted Living, personal assistance is provided as part of the agreement
  • In Supportive Housing, services purchased at the prescribed level may qualify to receive equivalent support from the local health authority (a service is at the prescribed level if it is provided daily to weekly on a regular and continuous basis). This differs from Assisted Living in that the Supportive Housing operator is not offering personal assistance.
  • If a number of residents in Supportive Housing qualify to receive subsidized home support services, the health authority may assign a staff member to visit on a routinely scheduled basis to provide the support; in Assisted Living the operator of the residence provides these services.    
  • The Registrar does not regulate Supportive Housing but they do regulate Assisted Living under the CCALA.       

Community Care in BC

Community Care facilities in the province of BC provide care to dependent and vulnerable individuals. The definitions of care and accommodation are described in detail under Parts 1 and 2 of the CCALA.

Registration and Licensing
Both Community Care Facilities and Assisted Living residences are regulated under the Act however Community Care must also be licensed per regional health authority regulations and may also be regulated under the BC Hospital Act.

Assisted Living residences are required to be registered but not licensed; Community Care however is not required to be registered as it is licensed.

Additional ways in which Community Care and Assisted Living differ

  • Residents in Community Care may not be able to make decisions on their own behalf as they may have moderate to severe developmental disabilities including dementia
  • Individuals of Community Care may wander or become confused
  • Residents in Community Care may not recognize or respond to emergency situations
  • Community Care facilities are monitored on a 24-hour basis; they may be equipped with key-padded security systems and monitored entries/exits for the protection and safety of the individuals in their care
  • Professional care such as nursing care, can be provided on a regular basis in Community Care. .
  • Community Care facilities are regularly inspected by licensing officers according to the assessed level of risk; officers also investigate complaints. 
  • Both Assisted Living and Community Care provide personal assistance services however, if three or more personal assistance services are offered at the prescribed services level the facility must be licensed as a community care facility.

Family Care Homes in BC

Family Care Homes in BC are also referred to as Residential Care or Adult Family Homes and they are designed to provide prescribed services in a family-like setting. The Family Care Home can only serves one or two individuals to whom the operator is unrelated; this differs from an Assisted Living residence which accommodate a larger number of seniors.

Operators of Family Care homes in BC may offer services to more than two adults provided they are not related by marriage or by blood to the operator.

Family Care home may offer a higher level of care than an Assisted Living residence but they are not required to be registered under the CCALA.


Written by Alice Lucette
Image by ayla87 of stock.xchng

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