Assisted Living

Assisted living services provide housing, hospitality services and one or two personal assistance services (referred to as prescribed services), such as regular assistance with activities of daily living, medication services, or psychosocial supports.  (Three or more – is covered in Residential Care)  The Community Care and Assisted Living Regulation defines the prescribed services. An assisted living operator may not offer more than two prescribed services to residents. By contrast, an operator of a residential care facility may offer three or more prescribed services.

Assisted Living is intended for adults who can live independently and make decisions on their own behalf but require a supportive environment due to physical and functional health challenges.  Units can vary from one room to private, self-contained apartments.  Both publicly subsidized and private-pay assisted living residences that meet the definition of an assisted living residence under the Act are required to be registered with the provincial assisted living registrar.

In British Columbia, assisted living services are regulated under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (the Act).

Services Provided

Assisted living services include:

  • a private housing unit with a lockable door;
  • personal care services (may include assistance with tasks like bathing, grooming, dressing and mobility or tasks delegated by a health care professional);
  • two nutritious meals per day, one of which is the main meal;
  • access to basic activity programming such as games, music and crafts;
  • weekly housekeeping;
  • laundering of towels and linen;
  • access to laundry equipment for personal laundry;
  • heating or cooling as necessary to maintain the safety and basic comfort level of the residence; and
  • a 24-hour emergency response system.

Eligibility Criteria

In addition to the general eligibility criteria for home and community care services, to be eligible for assisted living services, an older adult must:

  • require both hospitality services and personal care services;
  • be able to make decisions on your own behalf that will allow you to function safely in an assisted living residence, or have a spouse who is going to live with you and is willing and able to make decisions on your behalf;
  • be at significant risk in remaining in your current living environment; and
  • have agreed to pay the assessed client rate and any additional optional charges for services, programs or supplies that are not included as a benefit but are offered by the service provider.

To read the general eligibility criteria for all home and community care services, go to: Are You Eligible?

Assisted Living Registrar and Registry

The Assisted Living Registry is part of the Quality Assurance Branch of the Health Services Policy and Quality Assurance Division. The mandate of the assisted living registrar under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act is to protect the health and safety of assisted living residents. The registrar administers the assisted living provisions of the Act, which require assisted living operators to register their residences and meet provincial health and safety standards. To meet this mandate, the registrar:

  • administers the registration of all assisted living residences in British Columbia, whether they are publicly subsidized or private-pay.
  • establishes and administers health and safety standards, and administrative policies and procedures.
  • ensures timely and effective investigation of complaints about the health and safety of assisted living residents.
  • has authority to inspect residences if there is a concern about the health or safety of a resident.
  • refers issues that are not within the registrar’s jurisdiction to the appropriate authorities.

See this webpage for more information on the Assisted Living Registry and contact information:  Assisted Living.

Protection Gap

The Ombudsperson was critical of this area of seniors housing, referring to a ‘protection gap’ since the residents are not covered by regulations other than the regulations dealing with registration and health and safety.   Any concerns with the quality of services provided is a ‘consumer’ issue.  Their residence should be a tenancy, however while the Residential Tenancy Act was amended to cover Assisted Living, this regulatory regime was opposed by those in the housing industry, and these amendments were never proclaimed in force.  A common complaint is about smoking by other residents, including marijuana smoke.  Here is our information sheet about this:  Smoking Complaints – Assisted Living.

Assisted Living Resources

Government of BC

The government has also produced a ten page booklet on assisted living, through the office of the Assisted Living Registrar: Information About Assisted Living for Seniors

 BCLI

The best resource on assisted living is the study done by the BC Law Institute – Report on Assisted Living in British Columbia.   [Note – our Executive Director Martha Jane Lewis was a member of the study group].  The Ombudsperson was critical of this area of housing, referring to a ‘protection gap’ since the residents are not covered by regulations other than the regulations dealing with registration and health and safety.

Seniors Services Society

A useful resource on how to access seniors housing is the Seniors Services Society.   They produced a useful chart setting out seniors housing options here: Seniors Housing Options.

Seniors Services Society

209 – 800 McBride BoulevardNew Westminster, B.C. V3L 2B8

604 520-6621

www.seniorsservicessociety.com