What You Need to Know when Selecting a Senior Living Advisor


As our population ages, so grows the senior housing sector. Over the coming years, you will doubtless see an assortment of new options, lifestyles and care offerings from retirement homes, senior specific apartment communities, co-housing alternatives and long term care facilities.

A Senior Living Advisor (or Counsellor) can help you navigate and understand all the options available to you in the community and strategically plan for future needs in advance or in a crisis.  Looking at a retirement home as an option, it’s important to remember that these communities are private businesses and have a mandate to maintain full occupancy. Thus, they have dedicated sales people assigned to a specific community, whose role is to lease that community to you. An Independent Senior Living Advisor on the other hand will look at your individual needs, and provide information about multiple communities that could better match your preferences and budget.

Advisors can not only narrow down your search but advocate on your behalf and support you while visiting each community. An educated advisor with insider perspective can also help you understand how the communities operate, and strategically plan not just for today, but for your future needs as well.  An Advisor is also a key ally in crisis or for an immediate need as they can quickly and effectively help you narrow down your search, always mindful to help you make informed decisions.

Ottawa has one of the largest aging populations across Canada and therefore there is an abundance of services available to seniors; from more than 100 Retirement Communities, 70 plus Home Care agencies, publicly funded services and programs, and community resources. In addition, there are a number of agencies that now provide Senior Housing Counselling (Advisor) services. Navigating this can be time consuming, confusing and stressful.

Senior Living Advisors are a relatively new type of service and it is important to find the program that best matches your needs.  Can a Senior Housing Counselling service help you navigate the senior living landscape?  Absolutely!  However, not all are the same.     


What makes Solva different?

At Solva, we believe in three main principles to achieve successful navigation of senior living.

1 – Professional Education:  Providing you with the education and knowledge you need to understand how the local services and options work, all the while meeting your individual needs and situation.

2 – Referrals:  Being that one call for everything, where you can go to get any information and resources you’ll need to make informed decisions.

3 – Strategic Planning:   Helping you make plans for today, while keeping the future in mind and helping you remain in the proverbial driver’s seat.


How to Select the Right Senior Living Counselling Service.

You many wish consider the following when deciding who to choose to help you, as we’re not all the same

1 –  Insider Experience and Knowledge.

Our Solva counsellors must have experience working and/or managing in the senior housing sector.  This enables our team to provide the most effective and accurate strategies, guidance, advice and referrals.  We fully understand how they operate including governance, residents’

rights and care planning. Also unique to Solva, is that we are the only organization with Long Term Care facility management and Aging at Home agency operation experience, which offers our clients a full spectrum of education, strategic planning and/or crisis intervention from all angles of the continuum of care.

2 – Free or Paid Service?

Many people are interested but skeptical of a free service.  The big question is, ‘What’s the catch’? Simply put, the “free” services are “free” to the client because we are paid a referral fee by our Senior Housing Providers who support our program and see its tremendous value. However, not all Senior Housing Counselling services are paid in the same way or amount.   

Solva is the only Senior Housing Counselling service that offers a free service, where the retirement home partners pay us a flat fee vs. a percentage of one month’s rent.  Meaning, no matter what the monthly rent is at retirement community, all providers pay us the exact same amount.  Typically, other similar services charge between 75-100% of one month’s rent! Solva’s flat fee ensures that our team is truly unbiased and not referring our clients to communities that might provide higher paid rents/commissions.

We also do not ask our clients for a credit card, or charge them for our time if they do not end up using our service or choosing a home that we have suggested. We also do not ask our clients to pay us if our client chooses a home that we are not partnered with.

Also notable, is that our agreements with retirement homes indicate that the retirement home cannot bill back our referral fees to the clients and/or they do not provide better rates to those who do not use an agency.  Meaning, we are not like realtors vs comfree.

The other question that we often see is, ‘Do you offer all retirement homes as options, or just the ones that pay you?’  Generally, the free Senior Housing Counselling services work with all the same homes, which in Ottawa, is about 80-90% of all communities.  Our process is to work with our provider partners first, and if we cannot find what the client is looking for then we will pursue options with providers who are not partners. Even if a client chooses a non-partnered property, we will never charge them for our time or efforts, even though we will not receive a referral fee from the home.

Solva is the only company (that we know of) that has toured 100% of all the communities in Ottawa and will research and refer all communities no matter the partnership status.  

Why would we do this when we won’t get paid by everyone?   The answer is because we do what is in the best interests of each and every client and it’s the right thing to do.  It’s our hope that one day, these communities will join our program and support the unbiased assistance we are providing our clients.  The industry has made it exceptionally confusing for seniors and families, and we hope that one day, every community will see the benefits of our organization and the services we provide

3 – Commission Based Sales?

Again to the best of our knowledge, Solva is the only Senior Housing Counselling service in Ottawa that is NOT commission based.  Not only are our advisors highly educated, knowledgeable and resourceful, they are paid a salary without any sales targets. They do noty earn commission and there are no ulterior motives when you speak to them.  This structure was purposefully established to ensure we are always independent and impartial.

4 – Ethics and Integrity

Since 2013, Solva has never wavered on its ethics and integrity.  It is part of our core values and at the forefront of everything we do. Our entire team signs off on our Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice to ensure we consistently operate with integrity, honesty, accountability and compassion.

What’s my next step?

Call us at 613-421-6073 or email info@solvaseniorliving.ca

We provide the following free services:

1- Rapid Resources and Referrals

2 – Phone calls, virtual meetings or in person visits to understand your needs

3 – Arrange and Escort on Tours 

4 – Advocacy during the selection and move-in process.

5 – Resources for additional services


What makes us different…

1 – All our advisors are paid a salary vs a commission broker model.

2 – All our advisors have worked in seniors housing and understand how they operate.

3 – Solva is the only Retirement Home Search Service where provider partners pay the exact same flat referral fee.  This ensures we do not base our referrals on higher remunerative gains or try to upsell you.

4 – We work with partners and non-partners and do not ask our clients to compensate us if they

choose a building that will not pay our referral fee.

5 – No contract, just a courtesy Letter of Engagement to give us permission to reach out on your behalf.