British Columbia Senior Housing

British Columbia Seniors in British Columbia have a wide range of housing alternatives. From living independently in the family home, to the programs and support offered by different senior housing providers. British Columbia is the first province in Canada to regulate assisted living residences. The Assisted Living Registrar is responsible for ensuring the safety and health standards at publicly subsidized and private-pay Assisted Living facilities. In British Columbia community care facilities are regulated by Community Care and Assisted Living Act.

British Columbia has both private and public options for senior care. Government options are subsidized by the provincial government and are referred to as funded, and private options are paid for directly by the consumer and are referred to as market.

Market senior housing options include different levels of care, and can be classified into the following groups:

  • Retirement Homes in British Columbia (also known as Independent Retirement Residences or Independent Living Facilities) – this option is ideal for seniors who are relatively independent, but need help with daily living activities. These activities might include: meals, light housekeeping, laundry, 24-hour emergency response, 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.
  • Assisted Living in British Columbia is suited for seniors who can still live independently, but require assistance with activities of daily living and need health support. In BC Assisted Living Facilities are often part of a larger Retirement Community that offers different levels of care and services. Besides housekeeping, meals and landry, Assisted Living residences provide medication management, 24/7 nursing services, various therapies and more.
  • Complex Care facilities (also known as Residential Care facilities) are best suited to seniors who require 24-hour professional nursing and support. Significant physical frailty and/or cognitive impairment would be the prerequisite for complex care services. In BC, both profit and nonprofit independent operators deliver complex care under contract to government in a campus-like setting. Such health campuses often include Independent Retirement Residences and Complex Care facilities in the same campus, thus allowing the appropriate level of service as residents’ health-related needs change. All complex-care facilities in British Columbia are regulated under the Community and Assisted Living Act and must be registered with the Office of the Assisted Living Registrar (OALR). Market complex care can cost up to $8,000/month.

Funded programs include two forms of seniors’ housing in BC. They are:

  • The Independent Living BC (ILBC) program
  • Seniors’ Supportive Housing, known as the SSH Program

Independent Living BC (ILBC) program is administered through one of the five regional health authorities in BC, and it’s subsidized by both the health authority, and BC Housing – provincial housing authority responsible for subsidized housing. In order to qualify for this program, you must meet the eligibility criteria in the following key areas:

  • Applicants must require accommodation, hospitality services, and personal care services.
  • Applicants must be able to make decisions on their own behalf, rather than someone making these decisions on their behalf.
  • Applicants must be able to respond in case there is an emergency situation (i.e. fire in the building).

If the resident is accepted in the ILBC program, the health authority representative will refer the resident to specific available residences within the region that participate in the ILBC program. Not all of the residences will be available, and there might be a waiting list.

Seniors’ Supportive Housing (SSH) program provides specially equipped rental properties to primarily low-income seniors who need some assistance to continue living independently. Such properties are modified to enhance accessibility and improve safety systems. The program also provides support services, such as housekeeping, meals, and social activities. SSH program is administered through BC Housing, and is available in select communities throughout the province.

Sometimes, funded and market units can co-exist in the same project, and in this case there will be effectively two or more programs operating in the same residence. As funded programs require specific elements to be incorporated into the service package, this can define the service package for the entire project.