Senior care

Nursing Homes vs Retirement Homes in Canada – Know the Difference

Even though healthcare is one of the most important services we all avail, few know the basic differences between nursing homes and retirement homes. The onus, however, isn’t on the general public alone. Even medical professionals use the terms nursing home, long-term care and retirement homes so casually and interchangeably that it often becomes a problem distinguishing one from the other.

Today we will understand the basic differences between these facilities, as meant in Canada. It will not only provide better knowledge but will also help make a better decision at the time of need.

Next time you are checking out the available medical facilities and weighing various options; do remember to check the pros and cons of every facility. Know the differences and check out for yourself which is what and under which circumstance what should you be opting for.

Even though every place might have the medical treatment facility, not all are meant for every purpose. Depending upon the specific needs and requirements and the services provided by each one of them select the one that is perfect.

Nursing Homes and Retirement Homes – Which is What?

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In Canada, Nursing homes are also referred to as long-term health care facilities. However, they are not exactly the same as retirement homes. There are some basic differences that make them stand apart.

Not only are the two under the completely different purview of the law, but the prices of the two are also not the same. Moreover, not every place is meant for all type of patients. You will have to have the knowledge about the laws and charges and the facilities available.

In the following sections, we will be discussing the laws governing each type of healthcare facilities. We will also discuss the average rate for treatment and the type of care available. Though it should be remembered, that the rates can vary from time to time due to various factors and it is impossible to know the exact rate from the Internet alone.

A person will have to visit the facility to know the charges applicable. Check out the various factors that set nursing homes apart from retirement homes.

Laws and Regulations

While both the nursing homes, or long-term care homes, and retirement homes provide medical assistance, the major difference between the two are the laws governing each one of them.

The nursing homes fall under the purview of the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007. The retirement homes, on the other hand, come under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010. As is evident, the Retirement Homes Act was later introduced to make governing the retirement homes easier and make exclusive provisions for the same.

The Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, or LTCHA (as mentioned in short), has detailed guidelines about the rights of the residents, the facilities that need to be provided at the home, the complaint registration system, the care details, admission process and much more. Here is a comprehensive guide to the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007.

The Retirement Home, on the other hand, is governed by the Retirement Homes Act, 2010. Retirement homes are not like the nursing homes that can provide all necessary medical attention. It is more like a rented home that will provide care and assistance. Here is a simple guide to the Retirement Homes Act, 2010, giving a brief of the laws and rules of establishing and running a retirement home, and the rights of those staying there.

Application and Admission Procedure

Application for nursing homes or long-term care (LTC) is handled by the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). You will have to go to the nearest CCAC office and submit the initial application form for applying for admission to any LTC home.

The CCAC then checks the eligibility of the candidate and the candidate is placed on the waitlist for the meantime. It doesn’t matter if you are already admitted to a hospital or at your home.

The CCAC Community Care Coordinator will visit you at your designated place to guide you through the process. You will need to fill up your personal information form along with questionnaire and consent form. Check here the details of the application procedure for long-term care.

The application for retirement home accommodation needs to be submitted directly to the home itself. Every retirement home has its own process of application and hence you will need to check with the individual home to get the details. You can find retirement homes online.

Accommodation and Other Facilities

Both nursing homes or long-term care homes and retirement homes provide good quality accommodation facilities that will take care of at least the basic rights and privileges enjoyed by any person in the society. However, the basic difference is in the sharing options, the amenities provides and such other extra facilities that come along with it. There are certain old age hosting services where volunteers host their place for senior citizens.

Nursing homes have various options when it comes to accommodation facilities. The basic option is to opt for a shared accommodation wherein three to four people are accommodated in one room.

The other options are semi-private accommodation providing double sharing of a room, and private accommodation providing a single room for single person. The rates vary and semi-private and private accommodation cost higher than the basic option.

Retirement homes come with only one option generally – the private accommodation option. The accommodation can be in the form of a large suite for couples. The option varies from one place to another, and so are the extra facilities being provided by the homes.

The Cost Involved and Subsidies Available

The nursing home rates in Canada are provincially standardized. The basic accommodation with sharing will cost $1794.28 per month. For semi-private accommodation, the charge is $2163.24 per month. And, the rate for private accommodation is $2563.22 per month. It is advisable, though, to confirm the rates before admission, since the rates might change in future.

For retirement homes, the rates are generally higher than the nursing homes. Retirement homes do not have any provincially standardized rate and the rates are fixed as per the facilities being provided and the owner of the retirement home is at liberty to select the best rate for the home.

Once you have a list of the retirement homes near your residence, you need to inquire about the rates individually. The higher the facilities and better the care, the higher is the rate, in general.

Subsidies are provided for the nursing home stays to those who are not even able to afford the standardized fees. However, to be able to get the subsidy the person will have to provide proof of income and assessment report that clearly shows that the person is financially unable to bear the cost.

It needs to be remembered that the subsidy is not available for the semi-private or private accommodation in the nursing home. For retirement homes, however, there is no option to apply for a subsidy in general.

Wait Time for Admission

As already mentioned, the admission to nursing homes and retirement homes are looked after by different bodies.

The nursing home admission needs to follow a certain procedure that includes filling of the form followed by assessment and various other official processes to be completed by the Community Care Access Centre.

after completion of all processes and identification of the nearest available nursing home, the accommodation is provided. The entire process is quite time-consuming, and thus, the wait time is pretty long when it comes to nursing homes.

The wait time, in general, can stretch anywhere between few months to few years.

In case of retirement homes, there is generally not much wait time. It will vary depending upon the home and the demand, but, normally the admission can happen within a few days’ time.

This is perfect for those who are looking for an accommodation within a very short time.

Complaint Reporting Process

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In case of both nursing homes and retirement homes, the complaint reporting process will vary depending upon the particular home itself. It is advisable to check the complaint process at the time of admission with the concerned home. The in-home complaint process is solely decided by the owner of the home. If there is any complaint regarding the workforce training being given to the staffs, you can do that too.

In case the in-home complaint process does not yield any result, or in case of other complications that prevent the complaint to be registered with the home authority, the person can approach the concerned authority as per the laws governing the setup of the nursing home and retirement home.

In case if nursing homes, the complaint can be registered with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The Long-Term Care ACTION line is 1-866-434-0144.

In case of retirement homes, the concerned authority for complaint registration is the RHRA.

They can be reached at 1-855-275-7472 (1-855-ASK-RHRA).

Check here to know more about complaint registration against nursing homes with the ministry.

Check here to know about complaint registration process with the RHRA.

Know More About Long-term Care Homes or Nursing Homes

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The long-term care homes or nursing homes are meant for those who are in need of constant medical supervision and attention. This can be the case where the person concerned is having a need of 24hour nurse or frequent check-up and constant care by experienced and able medical professional. However, the person needs to be above the legal age of 18years to be eligible for admission to the long-term care facility.

Admission to long-term care does not in any way undermine the legal rights of the person. The person concerned can certainly give anyone of his/her choice the power of attorney, given the probability that there might be a situation wherein the person concerned might not be able to provide his/her consent to something of extreme importance, but the person will have every right that any other citizen holds.

Nursing homes, or long-term care facilities, are meant for recovery assistance. Admission to one does not necessarily mean that the person is incapable of leading a normal life.

You can access a database on nursing homes in Canada for better understanding.

Know More About Retirement Homes


Retirement homes are specially created keeping in mind the need of the older citizens. Quite obviously, the minimum age limit is set at 65years. Retirement homes are more like a place to live in during the old age where medical facilities and all other necessary facilities are readily available. It allows the stay of couples as well and there are large suites available in such scenarios.

Retirement homes are not only medical care facilities. They are accommodation facilities available for the elderly that will take care of their basic needs as well. Certain developments are also going on, if we take new establishments of nursings homes in concern.

It is being opted by many families with elderly members who might need assistance and care of various types and the other family members are unable to ensure it round the clock, given the fact that setting up a care facility at one’s own residence is not always the most feasible choice. Retirement homes come in handy under such scenarios, though they generally cost higher than the nursing home facilities.

Check this database on retirement homes in Canada.

What Should You Select – Nursing Home Or Retirement Home?


Many often find it hard to decide whether to opt for a nursing home or a retirement home. Unless the person in question is above the age of 65 years, the choice is pretty much non-optional. Retirement homes won’t take in anyone below that age. However, in case the person is eligible for both, the first thing to consider is the type of care needed. In case it is not possible to keep the person at home or there is no one capable enough to take care of the person concerned at home, retirement home seems like a better choice. There are various types of homes and selecting one that fits the budget is the sensible choice.

Nursing homes are able to provide care for critical illness and extensive medical care. In case of multiple ailments or serious health issue, nursing homes should always be the choice. Retirement homes are meant for providing care and assistance along with a living place. Though the retirement homes are available faster as compared to nursing homes. So, depending on the particular need and the situation, you will need to decide accordingly whether or not a retirement home is a better choice or a nursing home.


Flora Author

Flora is a model, an entrepreneur, and a creative writer. She writes on a variety of subjects and technology is one of her favourite subjects.

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