Short term, Respite and Permanent Stays

by Caroline Inman


Although not a hotel, a retirement home can provide temporary, short stays if needed. Here’s a look at why you might need one and what the difference is to being a permanent resident.  

Retirement homes are a unique offering as they generally provide the aesthetics and amenities of a hotel, with the ability to also care and support those who need it. They are an increasingly popular consideration for seniors whose motivations for a move can be everything from not wanting to maintain a house any more, to needing assistance with Activities of Daily Living.

Many people don’t realize that retirement homes often offer short term stays or respite stays, where temporary residents benefit from the services and provisions that permanent residents do. Below are some of the reasons a temporary stay may be used:

Convalescence after a hospital stay – This is probably the most common reason people go to retirement homes for a short time. Often they’ve improved enough in hospital to be deemed ‘medically stable’ but equally they’re not quite there yet to go back home to be fully independent again. A short stay in a retirement home will provide you with meals, housekeeping, laundry and social programming, as well as physical support like help with transfers, bathing, going to the bathroom and medications.

Caregiver absence – if you’re a caregiver for a loved one who relies on you but you need a break, then a short stay in a retirement home could be an excellent option for you and them. As above, they can provide care, but it’s important to do your homework and see which homes provide higher levels of care if that is needed.


Trying it out – before Covid this was an option that was readily available, but it was pretty much paused during the pandemic. Now, homes are once again welcoming short term trial stays for those who are contemplating a move but aren’t sure, and really want to ‘try before they buy’. Trial stays are generally for fully independent residents who will get to stay in a suite, eat meals, take part in activities and generally get a feel for the building before making any form of commitment.

Starting temporary before permanent – This is a little like a trial stay but a temporary to permanent stay is often used by those who require care, or those who really want to make sure they like the residence before signing a permanent lease. It is also sometimes used by the residence itself when they want to make sure that a new resident is a good fit and that they can easily support their needs. 

Short stays that involve care are usually for 30 days. Before Covid, there was more opportunity to have a week or two weeks as a short stay, but lately, homes are asking for 30 days because they need to best plan staffing, food, and services.  Some homes will let you stay up to 60 days as a temporary resident, some to 45 days. Some still will let you stay for a week or two, if you’re fully independent. At the end of the short stay period you will either leave with no further obligations, or you will sign a permanent lease.

A permanent lease locks in your rental price for 12 months but you need only give 30 days notice of your intention to move as these are licensed retirement homes, not multi-residential properties.

Differences between a temporary and a permanent stay:

The Paperwork:

Usually a short stay will involve less documentation than a permanent stay but you will still need to sign paperwork. Some homes have it very simple and there is one page, others are more detailed. As with everything, read it thoroughly or have someone with you to read it and ask questions of anything you don’t understand until you’re satisfied. See ‘The Oversight’ below for more information on paperwork.

The Pricing:

Some retirement homes will offer a much reduced short term stay rate as an incentive to try out their building, whereas others will take the price of what all care and services would be in a month and divide it to give you a daily rate. Be mindful of those homes that will appear ‘cheaper’ when you’re there short term as your regular rate may be up to $2000 more a month. Independent living daily rates can start as low as $85/day in some smaller homes that have less amenities. The average is $125/day. Incentivised rates, with care support can be as low as $130/day but the average is $175/day when care is also needed.

The Oversight:

Be super diligent of what paperwork you’re signing for a short term stay. Is it a regular lease and then the sales consultant is asking you for an immediate 30 days’ notice, or is it a short term agreement? If you’re signing a short term agreement, you’re a guest, not a tenant and you have no rights under the Residential Tenancies Act nor the Residents Bill of Rights under the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA). If you’re signing a permanent lease and then giving immediate notice, you do have rights.

The Room:

Respite stay rooms are furnished so you don’t need to bring anything with you other than your clothes and toiletries, although many choose to also bring their pillow and comforter and other personal belongings like an alarm clock and some photos. In the vast majority of temporary stay rooms, they’re studio spaces and the furniture includes a single bed, a night table with light, a dresser and television, an easy chair, maybe a little dining set of table and two chairs, a bookcase or a Tall Boy. A permanent suite is unfurnished and you set it up to be your unique space. Sometimes retirement homes may be able to help and provide/loan you some pieces so if permanently furnishing your space will be a challenge, ask the onsite team if they can help.

What is the same?

Requirements – Whether you’re doing a temporary stay or a permanent stay, you will need to complete paperwork and provide medical information. This includes a Resident Application Form, having your family doctor (or your attending doctor if in hospital) complete a Physician’s Assessment, and there may still be a need  for a recent (within 90 days) chest X-ray to screen for TB. In April 2023, Ottawa Public Health updated that there was no mandated requirement for TB screening unless there was a history or a reason why additional screening would be necessary. Some retirement homes however still ask for an X-ray, so determining whether this is necessary is beneficial in case you have to arrange this in the community yourself.

Overarching Support – anyone staying in a residence benefits from the overarching support of meals, housekeeping, social programming and 24/7 emergency access to nursing. Care, as needed, can also be provided either on an assisted living floor, or as additional support on an independent floor. With a temporary stay, if you’re in receipt of any care from Home and Community Care (formerly the LHIN) then they aren’t able to follow you into a residence and that care will have to be provided by the in-house team. This is because your own home is your permanent residence where Home Care is set up. If you move to a retirement home on a permanent basis then Home Care can continue to provide your services, as the retirement home will be listed as your new, permanent residence.

Next Steps?
Call us at 613-421-6073 or email

We provide the following free services:

1 – Rapid Resources & Referrals.
2 – In Person Visits (Zoom calls or phone chats right now unfortunately as we all socially distance).
3 – Arrange and Escort on Tours (again, we can provide virtual tours and presentations or get pictures of specific accommodations and living areas sent to you).
4 – Advocacy during the selection and move in process.
5 – Resources for additional services.