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Special Care Homes

Special care homes – also called nursing homes - provide care when your needs can no longer be met in the community. Special care homes are run by your health region or operated by a provider that has a contract with your health region.

There are a variety of care options available, and the assessment process can assist you in making the best decisions.


1. Types of Special Care Homes

There are a number of options available to meet the needs of you or your family member:

  • Planned respite care is for people who normally live at home but are dependent on family for support. Respite care provides temporary relief to families or other primary care providers. Bookings must be made in advance of requested dates and will depend on available beds. You will be charged a standard fee and also responsible for the costs of your medications and some personal supplies.
  • Emergency respite care provides short-term care where there is a sudden and unexpected change to a person’s support system and the person requires 24-hour supervision. You are charged a standard fee and also responsible for the cost of transportation to and from a facility, and all costs for medications and some personal supplies.
  • Adult day programs are available for a standard fee an designed to:
    • Maintain and increase your ability to perform activities of daily living;
    • Prevent premature admission to a special care home; and
    • Provide relief to the individual’s family and caregivers.
  • Convalescence is a period of additional recovery time following surgery or serious illness, usually following a stay in hospital. It provides you the opportunity to recover your health and independence so you can safely return to your community setting.
  • Palliative care provides active, compassionate care to people in the final stages of a serious, incurable disease, when a cure or prolongation of life is no longer the objective. Palliative care emphasizes quality of life, maintenance of human dignity, comfort and concern for residents and their support network.

For more information about the special care home that is right for you or your loved one, contact your local health region.

Program Guidelines for Special Care Homes

All special care homes and other designated facilities that provide this type of care must operate in accordance with the standards set out in the Program Guidelines for Special Care Homes.


2. Admission to Special Care Homes

To apply for admission to a special care home, contact your health region’s Long-Term Care Intake Department.

Your health region will assign you an Assessor Coordinator/Client Care Coordinator who will review, determine the type of care you require, and approve admission to a special care home. Assessments ensure that available beds go to individuals with the highest need and living at the greatest risk.

An assessment looks at several factors, such as:

  • Functional ability
  • Physical health
  • Mental status
  • Living environment
  • Informal support system
  • Social relationships
  • Emotional state, and
  • Spiritual needs.

If a bed is not immediately available, you will be placed on a wait list. While waiting, you will be offered support, such as home care.

Your care needs will also be reviewed regularly while waiting, so it is important to let your Assessor Coordinator/Client Care Coordinator know of any significant changes to your health that could affect your admission to a special care home.

You will be contacted by the health region as soon as accommodation is available.


3. Charges for Special Care Home Residents

Residents of special care homes pay a fee – a resident charge – based on their personal income. This charge is based on your annual reported income from Line 150 of your Income Tax Return.

  • A resident pays the standard resident charge ($1,076 at October 2016) plus 50% of the portion of their income between $1,400 and $3,340.
  • For married residents (including common-law couples), the couple’s income is combined, divided equally, and then the above formula is applied.

The Ministry of Health continues to subsidize approximately 80% of the overall province-wide cost of long-term care.

The resident and spouse (if applicable) are required to provide:

  • The most recent year's Notice of Assessment(s) from Canada Revenue Agency, or
  • Pages 1 to 3 of the Income Tax Return(s) upon admission and annually thereafter.

If income information is not provided, the resident charge will be assessed at the maximum rate.

A resident admitted for temporary care must pay the income-tested resident charge if their stay is more than 60 consecutive days.

Examples of resident charges at various income levels

Monthly Income  Monthly Resident Charge 
$ 1,400
$ 1,076 (minimum)
$ 1,900
$ 1,326
$ 2,500  $ 1,626
$ 2,900  $ 1,826
$ 3,340  $ 2,046 (maximum)

Married residents living in separate special care homes 

Married residents who live in separate dwellings for reasons beyond their control may choose to complete an Optional Designation Form.

  • With this designation, only the resident’s income is considered when calculating the charge.
  • Choosing this designation does not change a couple’s marital status.

Additional charges

In addition to the resident charge, there is an additional cost for prescriptions, medications, incontinence supplies, and certain medical and personal supplies and services.

There is also a $21.25 monthly supply charge for personal hygiene items, such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, denture crème, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. This charge is adjusted annually based on increases to Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits.

Adjustments to charges

Individual resident charges are adjusted annually on January 1 to take into account any changes in income of the resident and spouse (if applicable) from the previous year.

Resident charges effective October 1, 2016 are calculated using the 2014 tax return(s).

Special care home resident charges are adjusted quarterly in keeping with any changes to Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits which affects the figures in the above formula.

Recalculating resident charges

A request for recalculation of the resident charge may be made at any time by submitting a written request to the Ministry of Health along with supporting documentation to the Income Assessment Unit.

If the resident charge is recalculated, it will be retroactive to the first day of the month in which the request was submitted.


4. Other Housing Options

There are other housing options that might be right for you:

These options provide you with a variety of living arrangements with a range of services and programs.

These privately-run businesses set their own rates.

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