New Retirement Home Licensing in Ontario
The Ontario government created the Retirement Homes Regulation Authority (RHRA) as an independent not for profit corporation under the Retirement Homes Act 2010 to regulate and oversee the retirement home sector.
For the first time in the province, retirement homes will now need to be licensed and will be subject to regular inspections carried out by the RHRA. Retirement homes should not be confused with long-term care homes (often referred to as nursing homes), which are fully government funded and regulated, by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Retirement homes are operated independently and fees are charged to the residents directly for services.
The RHRA’s role is to license the over 700 retirement homes in the province that are home to approximately 40,000 seniors. They will maintain a register of all licensed homes and conduct regular inspections, overseeing compliance and enforcing the legislation of the Act.
Included in the RHRA’s mandate is a Residents’ Bill of Rights. This document is aimed at informing residents of their rights while living in homes licensed by the RHRA – it is a requirement of the license that it be posted in a public place accessible to all residents.
The Residents’ Bill of Rights includes:
- The right to know what care services are provided and how much they cost
- The right to be informed before fees for a care service(s) are increased
- The right to receive notice before a care service(s) is discontinued
- The right to give or refuse informed consent to any treatment, care or service where consent is required by law
- The right to privacy during treatment and care
- The right to live in a safe and clean environment with dignity and respect
- The right to have lifestyle choices respected, and
- The right to raise concerns or recommend changes in policies and services without fear of coercion, discrimination or reprisal.
Residents can file a complaint with the RHRA if they have any concerns or complaints about their care or the condition of their residence.
However, this new watchdog does not come without a cost. Each residence is being charged $9 plus HST ($10.17) per month per suite. For larger homes, this quickly adds up to a sizable amount of money. Unfortunately in many cases this charge is either being passed on to the residents or is resulting in a reduction of services. For many seniors already on fixed incomes and with tight budgets this additional charge is challenging.
Whether the new agency will prove to increase protection and improve conditions for seniors living in retirement homes remains to be seen and opinions, even among seniors living in retirement homes, are divided as to whether the oversight – and related costs - is necessary.
For more information on the RHRA, please see www.rhra.ca
The full Residents’ Bill of Rights can be found at http://www.rhra.ca/assets/en/pdf/Factsheet-Residents-Bill-of-Rights-AprFinal.pdf