The Finding Home Blog
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If you’re like most, moving to a retirement home probably isn’t on the top ten list of conversations you want to have. Whether it’s about your move or about a loved one’s move, it’s a tough conversation to have.
But once you realize the step may be necessary, it’s best to get it out in the open because it’s through conversation that you’ll find the best possible way forward.
The good news is, there are many fine retirement homes offering a variety of different lifestyle options.
The bad news?
Because there are so many to choose from and because they are all so different, it’s not easy to figure out which retirement home offers the best options for you. There are many pieces of the puzzle to sort out including:
Terminology. You’ve got to understand both:
- types of homes (retirement homes, long-term care homes, and nursing homes) and
- living options (independent, supportive, assisted, and 24-hour care/supervision).
Regulations. Retirement homes must comply with the Retirement Homes Act (RHA) as well as the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). It’s good to know there are rules in place but you need to be familiar with those rules are to ensure your tenancy agreement is fair and that your rights are being respected.
Inspection results. Retirement homes are subject to inspection by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) and it is important to review available inspection reports for the homes you are interested in and to ask these homes about any concerns you have about the reports.
Location. Of course it’s not just about what city or region a home is in, but also whereabouts it’s located within that city or region. It is accessible for people who will want to visit you? Is convenient bus service available? Is it near amenities you’d like to or may need to frequent such as libraries, parks, coffee shops, banks, grocery stores and pharmacies? Is it located in a setting you’d enjoy – whether that be a more bustling hub, a serene setting, or something in-between?
Size. Let’s face it, size does matter. Why? Because not all homes offer the same experience and some of that has to do with size. Some larger homes are able to include many amenities (I’ve even seen some with pubs, woodworking shops, and pottery rooms for instance) and services (from banking to visiting health care providers to fitness). Smaller homes may not be equipped with as many amenities but may make up for that by offering a more home-like experience than larger homes. Or, a smaller home may have only one level, eliminating the need for residents to make their way to their suite or to activities or meals via elevator.
Lifestyle. When it comes to activities and food, some homes’ activities calendars and menus are quite full and varied; others are more traditional and may have fewer options. In any case, it’s important to know what the options are and how they mesh with your preferences before you decide on a specific home.
Price and pricing structure. You need to know the price of accommodation but you also need to know the prices for additional services. There is no one set way that homes must charge for services. Different “packages” of services are available with different homes. So, in order to price compare your options, you need to find out how each retirement home you’re considering charges for:
- accommodation and utilities
- meals and activities
- housekeeping and laundry
- care services* (such as medication management, personal care, skin and wound care or dementia care)
- phone, cable, internet
You also need to understand how often prices can change and under what circumstances: some of this is governed by regulations; some of this is governed by a signed tenancy agreement.
*When it comes to care services, aside from pricing, you also need to know what services the homes offer and what services you may need to hire privately.
A third-party navigator can help
Searching for the home that will be the right fit for you or your loved one can be daunting, especially if time not on your side. And quite often it isn’t because, going back to my first point, we can be reluctant to discuss the possibility before we need to.
That’s where an unbiased third party can come in. Someone who works for you and you alone, helping you sort out your criteria and narrowing down your options to a manageable number – so you can consider the options that are more likely to be a fit with your needs and wants.
Ideally, such a service should also be able to provide you with reports detailing the specifics of homes that closely align with your criteria, including inspection results. Also handy would be a home visit checklist that complements the report and allows you to consider how the home fits with your criteria without be so long you can’t complete it in an hour-long visit (that’s why a detailed report is so important, so you don’t have to cover everything under the sun in your visit).
Other tools and services might also be helpful, such as an expense worksheet to help you compare your options and a review meeting where you have the chance to ask any outstanding questions you may have.
And of course, that service should be able to provide you with referrals to experts you may need to consult or service providers you may need, such as a lawyer (for powers of attorney, for example), a realtor, a mover, home care providers and so on.
Want to know whether Home Once Again could help you navigate your search and find the right home faster? Contact me today for a free initial consultation.
About the author
Teresa Schnurr felt called to open Home Once Again while searching for long-term care for her mother, then for a retirement home for her mother-in-law. Teresa's background in long-term care research helped a great deal but she realized through these searches that most people faced with such tasks had little background knowledge to guide them through their many choices, rules and regulations.