Housing for Seniors: Your Rights and Recourses

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Are you about to leave your home or have you already left and moved into housing for seniors? You have rights if you live in a private seniors’ residence (RPA), a long-term care center (CHSLD), or an intermediate resource (RI, supervised apartments or publicly regulated retirement homes providing assisted living). If you have a problem, you have options.

You Have Rights in All Types of Seniors’ Housing

No matter what type of seniors’ housing you might live in, you have rights. For example, you have the right to privacy, to be treated with dignity, to live in a clean and safe place, and to consent to or refuse medical care.

You also have the right to a copy of the staff’s code of ethics for the facility you’re living in. This code contains the rules the staff must follow when interacting with you.

You Have Recourses in Case of Problems in All Types of Seniors’ Housing

If problems arise in your facility, you can try speaking first to the person causing the problem. If that doesn’t work, you can then discuss the matter with another staff member, a supervisor, or someone in administration or management.

If the problem continues, here are other options.

Users’ Committees

If you live in an intermediate resource or a CHSLD, you must have access to a users’ committee. Users’ committees often have a sub-committee called a “in-patients’ committee”. These committees represent the interests of residents and can help you resolve a problem you have with the facility.

The users’ committee can also help you file a formal complaint. You can also give them suggestions for improvement or report your dissatisfaction without filing a formal complaint. The complaints commissioner (discussed below) or staff at your facility can give you contact information for the users’ committee or in-patients’ committee.

Many private seniors’ residences have their own residents’ committee. Although they don’t have official status under the law, they can help find solutions to problems you have with the residence. Staff at your residence can tell you how to contact the committee.

Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner

For a problem about the quality of servicesin all types of seniors’ housing, contact the service quality and complaints commissioner for your integrated health and social services centre (CISSS or CIUSSS). The commissioner can help you make a formal complaint. The complaint can be verbal or written.

If you’re not satisfied with the commissioner’s response or if you don’t get an answer 45 days after the commissioner received your complaint, you can contact the Québec Ombudsman  (called the “Health and Social Services Ombudsman” in such cases). Here is contact information:

Complaint Assistance and Support Centres

For any type of seniors’ housing, you can contact a complaint assistance and support center (CAAP) for help and support in your complaints process. CAAPs are regional community organizations throughout Quebec.

You can find the contact information for the CAAP in your region on “The Health and Social Services Network Complaint Examination System” page of the Quebec government’s website. Or you can call the general toll-free number: 1 877 767-2227.

CAAP services are free and confidential. They can do the following:

  • give you information on the complaints process
  • help you write your complaint or write it for you, if necessary
  • assist and support you at each step of your complaint
  • facilitate discussions between you and the institution to resolve your complaint

For example, if you live in a private seniors’ residence and are having a problem with your lease, the CAAP can help you find a solution. The CAAP can also help you communicate with a Users’ Committee or the Service Quality and Complaints Commissioner.

The Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL or rental board)

If you’re living in a private seniors’ residence and are having problems with your lease, such as a significant rent increase, contact the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL, formerly Régie du logement or rental board). Your regional complaints assistance and support centre (CAAP) (see above) can support you throughout the process with the TAL.

Complaint About a Doctor, Pharmacist, or Dentist

If you have a complaint about the treatment provided by a doctor, pharmacist, or dentist, read our articles: “Filing a Complaint About Health or Social Services” and “The Duties of Doctors Towards Patients”.

Are You Being Mistreated?

For problems related to mistreatment, you should know that health and social services institutions (CLSCs, CHSLDs, hospitals) must adopt an anti-maltreatment policy. Private seniors’ residences, intermediate resources, and home care services must also adopt such a policy. Your facility must post its policy in a public area and on its website. You can also ask staff for a copy.

If you’re being mistreated , you can make a confidential complaint with the service quality and complaints commissioner for your integrated health and social services centre (CISSS or CIUSSS).

In an emergency, you can also call the police (911) or the Elder Mistreatment Helpline (1-888-489-2287).

To learn more about this topic, read the “Mistreatment of older adults” page on the Quebec government’s website.

Can You Install a Camera in Your Room?

Are you wondering if you can install a video camera in your room for safety and security? A video camera can improve your security, protect your property, or prevent mistreatment. It can also help you stay in touch with your loved ones. However, there are rules that must be followed if you install a surveillance device. You have several options: a small hidden camera, a camera installed in full view, a tablet, or a smart phone.

If you live in a private seniors’ residence, you generally have the right to install a camera in your room. However, some residences might not allow it.

If you’re in an intermediate resource, you also probably have the right to install a camera in your room. Check with the person in charge.

If you’re in a CHSLD, your loved ones can install a camera to keep an eye on things.  To learn more, read our article “Can You Install a Video Camera in a Senior’s CHSLD Room?”.