Assisted Living in British Columbia

Overview of Assisted Living in British Columbia

Understanding Assisted Living in BC
In an Assisted Living environment, residents live semi-independently, make the majority of their own decisions, and have access to support and assistance with day-to-day tasks when they need it. Assisted Living in BC

Seniors in an Assisted Living residence do not require the wide range of professional nursing services provided in a Residential Care facility, however, they may require more services than individuals in a Home Care or Supportive Housing environment. Also, Supportive Housing can only serve up to two individuals, where there must be at least three in an Assisted Living residence. Therefore, Assisted Living may be viewed as a middle option between Home Care and Residential Care. The three main components of Assisted Living are housing, hospitality services and personal assistance.

How do I know if Assisted Living is right for me?
In deciding whether Assisted Living is a good fit, seniors - with the support of family, and possibly a case manager, will work together with the operator of the residence to determine the types of services and accommodation they need and prepare an occupancy agreement. Assisted Living strives to promote the independence of seniors. In providing assistance to residents, staff members are sensitive to the privacy and individuality of each senior in their care.

Assisted Living Residences are best suited for seniors who

  1. Are able to make their own decisions about care and services they require.
  2. Do not require 24/7 licensed nursing care. Although Assisted Living residences do have professional nurses on staff, they are only providing temporary short-term care.
  3. Require Memory Care for mild cognitive impairments, such as dementia. However, in case if an individual cannot make their own decisions to live safely in semi-independent environment, they should be referred to a special Residential Care facility.

Costs of Assisted Living in British Columbia

Assisted Living is available through either private-pay or publicly subsidized arrangement. In a private-pay facilities, residents are responsible for all costs. Services may be billed as a package for a fixed rate, on a per service basis, or a combination of both.

NOTE: Some private-pay Assisted Living residences also have publicly subsidized units.

Government Programs and Subsidies for Assisted Living in British Columbia

The BC Government, in their strategy to improve services to seniors, provides affordable housing to individuals with low or modest incomes. Suites range from apartments in an Assisted Living residence to Campuses of Care where more than one level of care is provided in a residence or group of buildings.

Independent Living BC (ILBC) is a program available throughout British Columbia for the development of publicly subsidized Assisted Living residences. Each regional health authority in the province has been granted funding for Assisted Living housing and in some cases the health authority provides an addition subsidy.

Seniors eligible for an Assisted Living subsidy in BC pay a monthly fee of 70 percent of their net income for accommodation, hospitality and personal assistance services, up to a maximum amount. Some Assisted Living Residences in BC may charge extra for hospitality services such as additional meals. The monthly rent and the utilities fee (usually not including TV and phone) is paid to the operator of the residence.

How do I know if I'm eligible for Assisted Living subsidy and is there a waiting period?
A Case Manager from a regional Health Authority will consult with the individual to determine eligibility for subsidized Assisted Living. Admissions to all publicly subsidized assisted living are handled by local Home and Community Care office. Vacancy rates vary across the province and it's not always possible to predict when a subsidized suite will be available. However some assisted living communities in BC that have both subsidized and non-subsidized, private-pay suites in the same building.

British Columbia Assisted Living Regulation

In British Columbia, the Assisted Living Registrar (ALR) under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (CCALA) regulates all Assisted Living residences -- both subsidized and private pay. The CCALA defines assisted living residence as:

a premises or part of a premises in which housing, hospitality services, and at least one but not more than two prescribed services are provided by or through the operator to three or more adults who are not related by blood or marriage to the operator.

The ALR is part of the Home, Community and Integrated Care Branch of the Health Authorities Division in the province of BC.

Who will ensure that health and safety standards are met in Assisted Living residences?
Under the CCALA, the mandate of the registrar is to protect the health and safety of Assisted Living residents. In addition, the Act requires operators of Assisted Living residences to register their residences and adhere to provincial health and safety standards. According to the mandate, the registrar is responsible for the following:

  • Registration of all Assisted Living residences, both private-pay and subsidized
  • Set-up and administration of health and safety standards for assisted living as well as policies and procedures
  • Investigation of complaints about health and safety of residents in assisted living facilities
  • Inspection o premises when concerns about health and safety standards arise

BC Assisted Living Legislation

Operators of Assisted Living residences in BC are required to comply with all applicable legislation, including:
Assisted Living Regulation
British Columbia Building Code Regulation
British Columbia Fire Code Regulation
Community Care and Assisted Living Act
Community Care and Assisted Living Regulation
Drinking Water Protection Act and Regulation
Food Premises Regulation
Health Act
Health Act Communicable Disease Regulation
Personal Services Establishment Regulation
Sewerage System Regulation
Swimming Pool, Spray Pool and Wading Pool Regulations
Vancouver Building Bylaw

Image by Mesa Royale of Flickr

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