Housing Options for Seniors Leaving Their Home

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Over time, it can become difficult to remain in your home, even with support. Even if you maintain an independent lifestyle, you may want to move from your home to a living environment that offers more safety, services, and activities. You have several options depending on how independent you are, any special services or care you may require, and your ability to pay.

Different Types of Housing for Seniors

Different housing options are available for seniors who must or who wish to leave their apartment or their house. You may move from one option to another as your needs evolve:

  • Private seniors’ residences (RPA)
  • Intermediate resources (RI, supervised apartments or publicly regulated retirement homes providing assisted living)
  • Long-term care centres (CHSLD)

Important! Admission criteria and waiting times for an available place may limit your options.

Leaving Your Current Apartment

If you rent your current apartment and want to leave, you can cancel your lease before it ends in some situations. You can cancel your lease if you are moving to a facility that offers care or services you need because of your health, such as a long-term care centre (CHSLD), an intermediate resource, or a private seniors’ residence.

Private Seniors’ Residences (RPA)

This housing is for independent and semi-independent seniors. You rent your own apartment or room and have access to personal care and assistance services the residence offers, such as meals, nursing care, social activities, and domestic help.

These residences are privately owned and operated, but they are regulated by the government. They must meet government standards of quality and safety to get certified. The government can inspect these residences at any time.

Cost

The residence decides the basic rent and cost of services. Even if you live in a private seniors’ residence, you still have the right to external services provided by your local community services centre (CLSC), sometimes for free. This includes nursing and medical care, psychosocial services, or physiotherapy. Contact your CLSC for more information.

Important! Newly constructed residences that have been open for less than five years may have different rules. Ask questions and read the lease carefully before signing.

How to Apply

You usually find and choose your own residence, and neither your local community services centre (CLSC) nor the government is involved. The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS or department of health) website has a register of private seniors’ residences you can search by region or by services offered (French only). You can visit several residences and choose the one that’s best for you, depending on your needs and your budget.

Intermediate Resources (RI)

Intermediate resources offer a supervised living environment while still feeling like “home” as much as possible. “Intermediate resources” is a term the government uses to describe supervised apartments or publicly regulated retirement homes that provide assisted living. This type of housing is for people who have experienced a slight or moderate loss of independence and need an intermediate level of personal care and assistance services. For example, intermediate resources offer meals, help with bathing and dressing, and follow-up with health and social services. Treatments by health care professionals (such as physiotherapy, nursing, or medical care) are provided by the CLSC. 

Intermediate resources are mostly privately operated but are connected to the public health and social services system through agreements.

This type of housing must meet quality and safety standards set by the government. The CISSSs (integrated health and social services centres) and CIUSSSs (integrated university health and social services centres) must keep registers of these facilities and evaluate them regularly. The government can also visit them to check on quality. Reports of these visits are available on the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS or department of health) website (French only).

Cost

The Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ or health insurance board) determines how much you pay depending on your financial situation. The law limits the maximum amount. The amount covers your room or apartment and some services.

The RAMQ website has a calculation tool you can use.

How to Apply

Contact your local community services centre (CLSC). They will evaluate you to see if you should be admitted into this type of housing and, if so, will find a place for you.

Long-Term Care Centres (CHSLDs)

This type of housing is for people who have lost a lot of independence and need continuous care from health care professionals. CHSLDs offer several services, including nursing and medical care, hygiene, and housekeeping.

Some CHSLDs are part of the public health and social services system and others are private. All CHSLDs must be certified by a standards organization that is independent of the government. The certification must be renewed every five years. Government representatives visit these facilities from time to time to check on the quality of the services. Reports of these visits are available on the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS or department of health) website (French only).

Cost

For public CHSLDs, the government determines how much you pay depending on your financial situation. The law limits the maximum amount. The RAMQ website has a calculation tool you can use.

For private CHSLDs, the owners decide how much they charge residents. 

How to Apply

To apply for a place in a public CHSLD, contact your local community services centre (CLSC). They will evaluate you and find a place that offers the care you need.

For private CHSLDs, contact the CHSLD directly.

Express Your Housing Wishes in Advance

If you become incapacitated, you might no longer be able to choose where you live. To make sure your wishes are respected, you can start by discussing your housing preferences with your family in advance. You can also make a protection mandate

If you do not have a protection mandate and you become incapacitated, anyone close to you can ask a notary or the court to begin procedures to put protective supervision into place for you.

If you are legally declared incapacitated, and you refuse to leave your home to live in a health care facility, you could be forced to leave your home and live in the facility. However, permission from the court is required to force you to do so. The court must get your opinion on the matter unless it’s impossible under the circumstances.

Your Rights and Your Recourses

Once you have settled into your new living environment, you have rights and recourses if problems arise. See our article “Housing for Seniors: Your Rights and Recourses” to learn more.