So you or your loved is in need of a Long-Term Care Home. To help make this
life transition easier, the following is intended to guide you through the
application and placement process in Ontario (Canada-wide resources coming
soon!), and provide some direction of how to choose the most appropriate
When making your decision, you should keep the following in mind:
- The person affected by the decision and key family members should be
involved in the process. If the person is capable, they must agree with the
- Making choices can be emotionally stressful and may strain relationships.
Assign one family member to handle all the necessary arrangements.
- Caregivers should consider their own needs and health, in addition to those
of their loved one.
All long-term care facilities are licensed by the Ministry of Health and
are inspected regularly. The license should be displayed in a prominent place in
the home. Look for the license and verify the date to ensure that the facility
is currently in compliance with all regulations. Also, check to see if it's been
accredited. Some homes may have received their operating license but may not
have been accredited by the Canadian Council on Health Services
The best way to find out if a facility suits your needs and preferences is
to personally visit it, if possible, more than once. If you visited during the
day, visit a second time in the evening.
- Try to observe "a day in the life" at the home, talk to residents and ask
plenty of questions. Ask if you can wander around on your own to get a better
feel for the place, after all, it could be your new home. Like neighbourhoods,
each long-term care facility has a unique atmosphere. It's important to consider
if the "feel" of the home is right for you or your family member.
- Is there someone in authority to talk to, i.e. Administrator or Director of
- Is the facility bright and cheerfully decorated?
- Are there any offensive odours?
- Are the floors and walls clean?
- Do the residents appear clean and well groomed?
- Are the residents neatly dressed, wearing shoes, or sturdy slippers?
- Is the temperature comfortable?
- Is there a central dining room, or are trays served in the resident's room?
Mealtimes are social times, and an attempt should be made to provide a relaxed,
cheerful, and sociable atmosphere for dining. The menu should be displayed. Ask
when meals are served, whether there are in-between meals, and bed-time snacks,
and whether there are any alternates to the posted menu for those who cannot eat
a particular selection.
- Are there special diets for those who require them?
- Does the facility have the services of a Dietician available?
- What is the facility policy regarding alcoholic beverages?
- Can family and resident have meals together? How is this arranged? What is
- Is the resident to be dressed everyday?
- Are there bathrooms close to each resident's room? Do men and women share
- Are tub baths and/or showers provided regularly for all residents?
- Is there any special equipment, such as Whirlpool bath, chair lifts, shower
chairs, etc., to assist those mobility restrictions?
Assistive Devices (Wheelchairs, Canes, Walkers,
- What is the policy regarding special equipment? ie. Air Concentrators, Motor
- Does the facility provide these items, or are the residents/families
Does each unit have a bed with a firm mattress, pillows and blankets?
- Is there a comfortable armchair, a bedside table, drawers for clothing, and
a closet? There should be approximately 3 feet between beds. Look for privacy
curtains, or screens for each unit. Also take note of windows for ventilation
- Are the rooms well lighted, with individual lights and controls for each
- Can the resident bring any personal pieces of furniture, i.e. rocking chair,
TV set or radio, small night table, bookcase?
- Does the facility allow any pictures on the wall?
- Does each room have its own telephone, or is there provision for private
- Is cable TV available?
Activities and Amenities
In most homes, the activity schedule is the life-blood of the facility and
its residents. It should be posted prominently. Look for regularly scheduled
exercise periods, social activities, and crafts, as well as special outings, and
visiting groups. Ask if you may sit in on an activity that may be of interest
and see for yourself what is offered?
- Is there an Activation Director?
- What are the hours of this person?
- Is the family allowed or expected to be involved in programs? To what
- Is there a residents' council?
- Can the facility meet your language, dietary and religious needs?
- What activity and amenity space is available? i.e. chapel, hair salon/barber
shop, craft room, games room, etc.
- Are the Exit signs well lighted?
- Are Fire Extinguishers readily available?
- Are there hand rails along all corridors, beside all toilets, and bath tubs?
- What is the facility's policy about smoking?
- Is there an emergency response system for each resident?
- Do all beds have side rails which are elevated when the resident is in bed?
- What is the policy about restraints? What is the policy about residents'
Facilities may differ somewhat in the type of care they provide. It is
essential that the facility you choose can respond to the changing personal and
health care needs of you or your family member.
- Does the resident retain his own physician, or is there a staff physician
for all residents?
- How often does the facility require each physician to visit?
- Is the staff physician readily available for emergency calls?
- Is there a Registered Nurse on duty at all times?
- How are medications prepared? Who does this? Who gives out the medications?
- Is there a Director of Nursing on duty every day?
- What is the ratio of staff to residents during the day and during the night?
- How many residents does each nurse care for?
- What extra costs, if any, will there be each month?
- Where is the resident's money kept? Are there resident trust accounts? Are
records kept of transactions on these accounts? Are families/residents provided
with any form of regular statements on these accounts?
- Are rooms charged one month in advance or at the end of the month? Is there
a refund if a resident leaves before the month is up?
- How much money should a resident keep at this bedside? Is there a locked
drawer for money and valuables at the bedside?
- Is there a "Tuck Shop" for small personal purchases?
- What times may families/friends visit?
- Is there a room for family get togethers or celebrations?
Hopefully the above list of questions and things to look for when visiting
potential long-term care homes will help you. Remember to ask the administrator
or manager of the home as many questions as you can, and talk to residents when
possible. You may want to print this guide and bring it with you to ensure that
you ask all the questions you intended to.
For Tips on Admission
practices for Long-Term Care homes, Click