For many seniors, being able to remain at home for as long as possible is a priority. Home is literally where the heart is and often holds many cherished memories of family, friends, and neighbors; it’s a true sense of belonging. But home is not always practical. Here we look at what to do if you realize staying there is no longer healthy or safe.

There are many reasons why your current home may no longer be the best place for you. Often unfortunately, these have to do with a health deterioration, either physically or cognitively. It may be impractical because of space or stairs, or you may have had an accident and find that your home can’t accommodate your new needs. Few people realise that they can be told to find alternatives to going home if they’re in hospital and the health team does not believe being discharged back there is in the patient’s best interests. At Solva, more than half of the people we help are in this situation – when they’ve ended up in hospital and can’t go back home.

Luckily, there are several options to a traditional house or apartment where you can get the care and support you need but don’t have to lose any of your independence.

Short Term Stays

Respite stays in a retirement home can be a great stop-gap if there is a potential of you returning home at some point. They’re also a fantastic way to try out retirement living before making a firm commitment. Right now (Sep 2020) there is a minimum requirement of two weeks for a respite stay, and a maximum of 45 days (depending on the establishment). During a respite stay you’ll have a fully furnished private room with ensuite and all your meals, snacks and beverages provided. Weekly housekeeping, as well as laundry of linens and towels is also included, and in some cases, personal laundry too. You’ll be able to take part in all activities and events if you wish* and if you have care needs, these can also be supported. Medication management, assistance with getting up, getting dressed, bathing, going to the bathroom; this care can all be included. Pricing ranges from around $80 a day to $150 a day depending on location and the level of care needed. But considering everything is included, this can be a very effective way of receiving quality care and R&R, especially after surgery or following a hospital stay. If during this time you want to make the move permanent, then you can speak to the residence and the transition across can be very smooth.

*following a mandatory 14 day isolation/quarantine period.

Senior Living 55+

Next, there are Senior Lifestyle buildings or 55+ communities. These are not retirement homes per se as they do not offer care but they do offer meals, activities and site inclusions like a gym and hair salon or a pool. They’re a new concept and are becoming very popular. They’re also more of a transition from a house to a retirement home as the units are often larger like an apartment (some with full kitchens and in-suite laundry) and there is a real community spirit and a sense of security. They are usually fully accessible buildings with elevators, large hallways and extra wide door frames for walkers or wheelchairs. They are also ergonomically designed for ease of transition and to successfully age in place. Although they don’t provide care support themselves, they do welcome outside providers to support their residents or members. Pricing can start from around $2000 for a 750sqft studio space here in Ottawa but can be less in other areas of the province (from $1400). 

Retirement Homes

Traditional retirement homes are increasingly popular as there are so many options to accommodate the life you wish to lead. Some places are geared towards the more independent resident who needs little support, while others can provide a very high care level to include a mechanical lift, one-on-one feeding up to palliative and end of life care. To be a true retirement home, the premises must be licensed by the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority and must provide levels of care, from full meal provision to having on-site nursing assistance/access to a nurse 24/7.  Many people choose to live in a retirement community because they can enjoy a sense of freedom as well as having the support from staff and services. Weekly housekeeping, weekly laundry of linens and towels (personal laundry is also sometimes included), all meals, snacks and beverages, all activities and events, inclusion of utilities (again sometimes phone, cable and wifi) is all part of your monthly rent. Some places also include medication management and a night check in their basic pricing. In Ottawa, $1995 is the most budget friendly option right now for a studio suite (of around 250sqft). One and two bedroom options are also available in retirement homes and can range from $3200 for a one bedroom to $7500 for a two bedroom, depending on the establishment. Retirement homes that offer a continuum of care are frequently sought out. This means that you can move in right now needing little or no assistance, but know that should your needs change in the future, the residence can still help you. You can ‘internally transfer’ to a more assisted living floor or memory care floor or receive additional support services where you are when needed. This can include help with getting up and getting dressed, help with bathing and personal care; help with walking or getting to the dining room or activities. Also help with bathroom breaks or incontinence support. And of course, full medication management including the administration of injections, eye drops and puffers. 

Care levels and pricing varies greatly across Ottawa’s 86 (and counting) retirement homes. Because there is so much to choose from, it is often overwhelming to navigate. This is where we at Solva Senior Living come in. We’re a small team of trusted advisors whose backgrounds are in retirement homes, long term care, nursing and eldercare provision. Collectively we have more than 60 years of experience and we are here to help you narrow down choices based on your own personal needs and preferences. Our 100% free service is always offered with no-obligation. We can help you with organising a respite stay, to touring a 55+ community to pricing for full assisted living.  We are navigators, advocates, supporters and with you every step of the way!

To find out more please visit or call us at 613-421-6073. You can also email us at  It would be our genuine pleasure to answer any questions you may have. We can also help link you with referrals to businesses, services and professionals for at home care, moving companies, companionship, house cleaning, as well as chat through the Long Term Care process and how that works. We’re here for you, and any help you may need.