Which Seniors’ Housing Option is Right For You?

By Carmen Costantino
August 6, 2010

There may come a time when your aging loved one or as an older adult, the decision to move or downsize is the right one.

Most families think the hardest part is making the decision to move. That may true, however, understanding the breadth of seniors housing options is a close second!

The Comox Valley offers several options available depending on care needs and available monthly income.

Retirement communities or housing geared at seniors (usually 55 years and over) are intended for seniors who do not require onsite services.

Seniors can continue to live independently and arrange privately to have services such as Meals on Wheels and home support delivered directly. Seniors may also receive services provided by their local health authority.

Housing options include condominiums, townhouses, patio homes, rental apartments and income-assisted apartments. Income-assisted apartments require an application and there can be waitlists.

The Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program helps make rents affordable for BC seniors with low to moderate incomes. For more information on both options, visit BC Housing at www.bchousing.org or call 1-800-257-7756.

Supportive Housing is designed to assist seniors in remaining independent longer and include a combination of onsite support services, sometimes referred to as hospitality services or personal assistance. The support services package will include:

Any health-related services are delivered by the local health authority or by private health providers just as they would be to any other individuals living independently in the community.

Typically, this option is not subsidized and examples include Berwick Retirement Communities, Comox Valley Seniors Village, Stevenson Place and Abbeyfield House.

The easiest way to describe Assisted Living is housing that includes the services listed above for Supportive Housing with additional help with personal care needs such as bathing or taking medications. Assisted Living is available with or without subsidies.

The criteria to be accepted into a subsidized Assisted Living suite includes a Long Term Care assessment and current use or need for assistance with daily living tasks. That might include shower and/or medication assistance. Home support service needs to be in place for 3 months before a client can be waitlisted for a subsidized suite.

For more information on subsidized Assisted Living, call (250) 898-2255 within the Comox Valley.
Residential Care provides 24-hour skilled nursing care and supervision for people who have complex health needs. Staff members administer medications and assist residents with daily activities such as eating, bathing and dressing.

Eligibility for a government subsidized Residential Care facility is determined by a case manager from the Vancouver Island Health Authority. Those assessed as having the greatest need are given priority for admission to the first available and appropriate bed. Cost is a daily rate based on your level of income.

Recently, the government made changes to the daily rate and it is now based on 80% of a senior’s income. There are also Private Residential Care facilities where no subsidies are available including Comox Valley Seniors Village and Cummings Home.

“Hoping” that you can stay in your own home is not a strategy. Avoid a crisis and start researching your housing options today.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Planning. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

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