These 5 Differences Between Ontario Retirement Homes and Long-term Care Homes May Surprise You

Ordinary Ontarians often use the terms “retirement home” and “long-term care home (LTC home)” interchangeably, but they are different in some meaningful ways.

  1. You decide if you want to move into a retirement home, the government decides if you can move into a LTC home.

If you want to move into a retirement home, you can simply shop around as if you were looking for an ordinary apartment – you do need to have money to pay the rent, or a generous benefactor.

To move into an LTC home, you must require a level of care that satisfies the guidelines set out by the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). It is possible that you might be far too healthy to move into an LTC home in Ontario.

  1. Retirement homes are not part of the Ontario government’s health plan, but LTC homes are. 

If you decide to move into a retirement home, you can certainly arrange to receive excellent healthcare within it, though you would pay for this care. In an LTC home, your health care would be paid for by the Ontario government, though you would pay for your accommodation.

  1. You can come and go as you please in a retirement home, in an LTC home, not so much.

In a retirement home you are a tenant; if you were to suddenly decide that you simply must visit your favourite niece in Bacon Cove, Newfoundland, you simply book your flight. In a LTC home, Ontario law sets limits on how long you may be away; there are different schedules for different situations.

The LTC homes do take their responsibilities seriously, were you to absent yourself, without explanation, for 7 consecutive days, you’d likely be discharged.

  1. You can be evicted from a retirement home, but not from an LTC home.

As unpleasant a thought as eviction is, residents of a retirement home can be evicted just as any other Ontarian who rents accommodation can be, say, if rent is unpaid for an unacceptable length of time. The process is not a casual one, the Landlord and Tenant Board must issue a special order for you to be transferred out of the retirement home.

Residents of LTC homes cannot be evicted for not being able to pay rent. You should know that should your safety, or the safety of others, be a concern in an LTC home, you could be moved into another, more suitable LTC home.

  1. What if things go wrong?

Both retirement homes and LTC homes have established systems for handling complaints. For serious problems at retirement homes, there is The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority, though it handles only some kinds of complaints. Other agencies such as The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly can provide useful advice is settling issues.

LTC homes operate under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health and

Long-Term Care and there is an established system for sorting out complaints.

Ontario retirement homes and LTC homes both offer important services to seniors, but in different ways. You can learn more by following these links:


Written by Lorna MacNeil

Photo credit: k4dordy of Flickr

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