Things to Consider When Looking for a Nursing Home in Ontario
  • Friday, 15 July 2022

A Guide for Choosing a Nursing Home in Ontario

A nursing home is ideally the best place for an elderly family member to get professional healthcare. You might want to keep them home but cannot give them the round-the-clock care they need. Some might have special needs, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, which require professional medical attention.

Unfortunately, 85% of nursing homes in Ontario breach their duty of care to the residents in their facilities. Many are repeat offenders and get away with a mere slap on the wrist. Even the most egregious offences leading to serious injury or death hardly ever result in criminal charges. In most cases, the only relief available to residents and family members is a personal injury lawsuit.

Therefore, you must exercise care when deciding where to place your elderly loved one. Below are some things to consider when looking for a nursing home in Ontario.

Best Fit for Resident Needs

The first factor in choosing a long-term care facility in Canada is the needs of the potential resident. Caregivers or family members working in shifts can often provide regular care for older adults at home.

However, if your loved one exhibits dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms, they need close monitoring in a secure environment. You need long-term care homes qualified to keep residents from wandering around and can handle it when they get aggressive.

Some facilities offer care programs specific to conditions such as dementia that address their basic and cognitive needs. Others provide special rooms to accommodate an elderly person with limited or no mobility. The prevention of bedsores, for instance, is a significant issue for many elderly patients. They may require special beds to accommodate bedridden residents.

The elderly affected by COVID-19 also need long-term home care because of their comorbidities. In most cases, long-term care homes have specially trained staff to handle different patient needs. Your job is to find a facility that caters to your loved one’s particular needs. You can access public resources to get a head start.

Availability Through LHINs

As of 2019, Ontario had 642 nursing homes, comprising 42.4% of all such facilities in Canada. Wading through them to find the perfect nursing home will take a lot of time. The time you might not have.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario created a network of non-profit corporations to help with this. It established 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) that work with local health providers and community members in 2006.

However, it transferred the health planning and funding functions of the LHINs to Ontario Health on April 1, 2021. They now operate under Home and Community Care Support Services or CCSS. It assesses patient needs and eligibility for and availability of long-term care homes, among other health care needs. Long-term care services are available to eligible Ontario residents.

The CCSS site provides a regularly updated list of available senior care facilities per region. The list includes information about the number of licensed beds available and applications on the waitlist per accommodation type.

Find out more about each facility and any programs available for special-needs residents. Use this sample checklist to help you choose a suitable facility.

You can choose up to five facilities in Toronto or any Ontario region in order of preference. Your selection will give you an idea of your wait times. A facility can only refuse admittance if it does not have the staff or capacity to help your loved one.

The wait times are just estimates. Depending on your circumstances, you may make it to the top priority category on the waiting list. Contact a CCSS coordinator to work it out.

Nursing Home Safety and Appropriateness

The ministry maintains a database of complaints, investigations, and compliance issues for all Ontario care facilities. You can check the site to find out if specific facilities have a history of breaching their duty of care. Past issues do not disqualify a facility automatically unless it does not take steps to address them.

However, online research of care services is not enough. At some point, you need to visit the facilities on your shortlist physically. An onsite visit and tour of the facility will give you a sense of its ability to address the care needs of your loved one. You can get first-hand knowledge of the cleanliness and safety issues of the rooms and common areas. You also get a feel for the way staff interacts with residents.

However, you might still make a wrong decision about nursing care that leads to injuries to your loved one. When that happens, find out your rights to personal injury claims under the Long-Term Care Homes Act.

Pro Tip

There’s no substitute for early action regarding critical life decisions. The discussion about long-term care with elderly parents or loved ones should begin when they are still healthy enough to live independently.

Financial Options

The Ontario government subsidizes the cost of living expenses up to $1,891.31 at HCCSS long-term care facilities based on income. Monthly accommodation costs for a basic room are $1,891.31 as of July 2019.

However, support services do not cover semi-private and private rooms or supplementary personal care. A semi-private room costs $2,280.04 a month while a private room costs $2,701.61.

You might also need to supplement the level of care with 24-hour nursing. For example, a person in Ottawa with disabilities or Alzheimer’s disease needs caregivers with special training. The same can be said if your loved one might need physiotherapy or a personal support worker. That usually involves out-of-pocket expenses.

Some elderly patients may not qualify for government subsidies because of their income. Your family will need to figure out how to cover the costs of long-term care not covered by the subsidy. Keep this in mind when choosing a long-term care facility.

The family circumstances will dictate your options. You might decide in the family council to sell or rent out the older adult’s own home to pay for long-term care. However, choose to do this only if you know your loved one is safe and secure in the selected facility. If you sell the home and it turns out you need to transfer your elderly loved one, you’ll be in a bind. Where will the elderly person stay while waiting for another facility?

If financially feasible, delay selling or renting out your elderly loved one’s home until you’re sure. Explore other options to come up with the funds to sustain long-term care needs with a financial advisor.

Decision-making Authority

Children rely on their parents to always make life decisions. However, parents grow old and might need some help making competent decisions. It would be best if you prepared for that eventuality while they are still of sound mind and body.

A power of attorney gives someone legal decision-making authority over someone else if and when necessary. In most cases, it kicks in when an older adult can no longer make decisions.

An elderly person may give a family member one of two types of authority: personal care and property. In either case, substitute decision-makers need to prove incapacity to make medical care or financial decisions for that person. The appointed person must always act in the best interests of the individual.

The absence of a power of attorney can make it difficult for the family to enter legally binding contracts. One of these is choosing the proper long-term care arrangements for elderly loved ones. People incapable of making intelligent life choices may not get the care they need.

If you have the power of attorney before that happens, you can ensure the protection and well-being of your parent. It also gives you the legal authority to file complaints or personal injury claims for residents in retirement communities.

Contact Diamond and Diamond for Legal Assistance

Many factors can affect your decisions when looking for the right nursing home in Ontario. You can use Ontario government resources to find and fund long-term care for an elderly loved one. However, your elderly loved one might still end up in a less-than-ideal facility despite the most careful consideration.

In that case, you have options. You can report any injuries or abuse in nursing homes to the authorities. You can also make a legal claim against the facility with the help of experienced personal injury lawyers.

Proving the liability of nursing homes and the management of retirement residences is challenging. We can help you ensure these institutions maintain standard quality of care.

The well-being of the most vulnerable of your family members is critical. Holding healthcare providers accountable can help make that happen. The Diamond and Diamond team of lawyers has years of experience handling personal injury claims.

Contact us at 1-800-567-HURT or online to schedule your free case evaluation. We can help you get justice and the compensation your elderly loved one deserves.


The lack of criminal charges against nursing homes does not mean you cannot get justice. Contact Diamond & Diamond Law to hold the responsible parties accountable!

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