Firstly, we must establish the difference between LTC and retirement homes. The clientele is vastly different, and both are governed by a different Act. The former, the LTC Act, and the latter, the Landlord Tenant Act. The clients are incredibly different.
If you are putting a family member into LTC or a retirement residence there is lots to do. If you are on a waiting list for LTC in Ontario, you only have 48 hours to complete the process, so be prepared. Plan ahead. See: moving your parent: a checklist.
There are many options to placing or choosing a place to live:
Home support Services to enable older adults to continue to live independently in the community (usually also available to individuals with disabilities).
Long term care facilities Long term accommodation for individuals who require more nursing or personal care than can be provided through home support agencies. Includes facilities formerly known as homes for the aged and nursing homes.
Retirement homes Housing options for older adults, usually with meals and some support services available but no on-site nursing care.
Seniors' apartments Apartments for individuals aged 55-60 years and over who are able to live independently, care for themselves and maintain their own units.
Transportation Public and specialized transportation services, particularly for older adults and people with disabilities.
There are risks in being in a retirement home. It is unregulated by the various health care agencies. Workers need not have any qualifications or special staff, such a Personal Support worker, geriatricians, activity directors with training, full-time nursing staff. What family members need to take into account, is that a senior should have a medical check up, with chronic diseases, such as Parkinson's, Sundowner's Syndrome, cardiovascular health issues, or diabetes, identified to ensure that the correct placement is made.
Another concern, is that many symptoms of senior frailty, such as dementia, should be diagnosed to ensure that the placement is a fit for both the senior and the caregiver and the institution. My father was placed in a retirement home, only to have to be moved in two months since his brain tumour came back and his health deteriorated to the point where more nursing care and supervision was required. His doctor did not tell us about the dementia symptoms he had had three years previously. An issue arose in 2008, regarding sprinkler systems in retirement homes -where frail seniors may be unable to get themselves out of a building without help.