CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve decided on a move to a retirement community and are either in the process of narrowing down your choices or have already made the decision! Like any move, there’s a lot to think about. Here we run down a checklist of what you’ll need to do or provide ahead of time.

Covid testing
In our current Covid world – as Dec 2020 – there are rules and guidelines which have to be adhered to before moving into a retirement community. Specifically a Covid test. If you’re leaving hospital and going straight to a residence, they can take care of this for you, but if you’re in your own home or living with a family member, you’ll need to organise yourself. Equally if you’re switching from one retirement home to another – you’ll need a test. You can go to a testing centre in person, go to a designated pharmacy that is offering tests, or if you’re more compromised physically or cognitively and this isn’t practical, you can contact Ottawa Public Health who can potentially arrange a community nurse to come to your home and do it there. Once your negative test result is back, you must move into the retirement home within 24 hours as per Ministry guidelines.

Physician’s Assessment
The retirement home will need to hear from either your family doctor or if you’re in hospital, the attending physician as to your current state of health. They will also seek to understand if you have any conditions or disease and what your treatment plan is and any medications you are taking. Also, if there are any Doctor’s Orders that the nursing team at the residence must follow to ensure you remain healthy and safe when you move. As part of the paperwork needed, proof of recent TB screening is required (usually in the form of a chest x-ray). Again, if you’re in hospital this will be done there, but if you’re in the community and haven’t had a chest x-ray taken in the last three months, you will need a doctor’s requisition to have one taken. This is covered by OHIP and you can usually quickly arrange with an imaging centre to have it done.

If you’re looking to have your medications managed by the nursing team at your new residence, a list of your prescriptions is also needed. The home will ask for details of your current pharmacy and will organize a transfer of your files across. If you were paying for all or part of your medications before, you will continue to do so. Any insurance coverage will still apply.

Many retirement homes also have an in-house doctor (or doctors) who visit weekly or bi-weekly. It is often worthwhile considering switching from your outside GP to them as there can be benefits including; no travel time, very easy access, close relationship between the nursing team and the Dr to have any health issues or concerns raised and dealt with quickly, incl prescriptions.

Personal info: POA paperwork and Emergency Contacts, Drs details
The retirement residence will need to have copies on file of your Power of Attorney documents, as well as emergency contacts and your family doctor’s information. If you’re planning on switching GP you can get more details and what is needed at least signing.

Care Home Information Package (CHIP)
Before you sign your lease, you must receive a copy of their CHIP (Care Home Information Package) which is a document outlining important information you need to know before signing the lease/tenancy agreement. The CHIP must describe the services you’re paying for, e.g. what nursing support is offered, what is included in your price, and what services cost extra. It must also state the types of accommodation available and their costs; must detail the minimum number of staff that must be in the home at all times (and their qualifications) and whether there is a personal emergency response system. If there isn’t, it must state this. It must also tell you if there is a complaint process and what that involves. It does not have to show which room you’re assigned or how much rent you’ve agreed to pay.

You should also receive a handbook or a printed copy of a Retirement Home Information Package. This is where the home will detail the Residents’ Bill of Rights (your right to live with dignity and respect in a safe and clean environment; your right to know what care services are provided and their cost; your right for you (or a substitute decision maker) to fully participate in care planning and decision making about care). It should also include the homes approach to zero tolerance for abuse and/or neglect, as well as their procedure for handling complaints; info on the Resident’s Council and the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority and a statement that residents may purchase care and other services from external providers.

Lease Signing
You can often ask for the lease to be emailed or mailed to you ahead of time for your thorough review and for any third party review if you’d like. Leases for retirement homes are quite standard across the industry and they follow the rules of the Landlord and Tenant Act (Residential Tenancies Act 2006). When you sign your lease you are locking in the pricing you have been offered for one year, but you are not bound by this document to stay for a year. You need only give 30 days notice of your intent to move. It is at each home’s discretion if they choose to waive notice, but generally expect to have to pay for your last 30 days even if you move out beforehand.

• Payment
You may have been required to give a refundable deposit when you chose your accommodations. If so, this will be applied to your first month’s rent. Many homes take rent on the 1st of every month. If you move in on any other day, your rent is prorated at a daily rate until the next 1st of the month. You are usually asked to provide a void cheque so the home can make an automatic withdrawal every month. It is very rare to be asked to pay a ‘first and last month’. Usually, you are on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ schedule. Always check the home’s policy on their rent payments so you’re not caught off guard.

• Insurance
Some homes will ask you to get and provide them with a copy of renters insurance. Although the home itself will have insurance, some also require individuals to have their own protection. Check with your residence if it is one of their requirements.

• Connectivity – Bell, Rogers, Shaw
Again, many homes already have a connectivity bundle (phone/cable/wifi) that they either include for you as part of your rent, or which they offer to you at a charge. Others though ask you to arrange and pay for your service supply separately. If you already have an account with a provider it is simple to switch it across. If you don’t and you want cable, phone and wifi, you may need to arrange this independently.

• Car Licensing
If you’re taking parking at a residence they will need to have a copy of your car details and you will need to update your insurance to let them know if you are now parking off road, outside, in a garage etc.

• Pet Policy
If you are bringing along a furry companion, you will need to sign a copy of the home’s pet policy and potentially a waiver for damage. You are 100% responsible for looking after your pet (feeding, bathroom, walking, litter clean up) while it lives with you.

Upon Move-In
Right now (Nov 2020) you need to quarantine for 14 days as soon as you move into a retirement home. That is regardless if you have come from your own home, from hospital or another residence. During this time, all of your meals and care provision will be provided to you in your suite. It may also be possible for one family member to be able to visit you once daily during this time (respecting the need for PPE and Covid-19 protocols). Check with your residence what they’re allowing. Also during your first few days, you should be meeting with the managers of the various departments, so they can get to know you and vice-versa. This is especially true of the Director of Care. S/he will be producing a care plan for you which you’ll have the opportunity to review and sign off on. This plan is then reviewed at a maximum every 6 months to ensure the care and services you need are being met.

Solva is here to help you as much as we can during the process of review and selection of a retirement home, but we are not responsible for any prices, guarantees of service provision or execution of that service provision at any retirement home. We strongly recommend that you ask as many questions as you need from not only the sales consultant, but the Director of Care, and the general manager, to ensure you are fully informed as to their remit (especially care service levels) before making a decision.

Resources
www.rhra.ca info@rhra.ca 1-8555-ASK-RHRA (Retirement Home Regulatory Authority)
www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/06r17 (Residential Tenancies Act)
www.ottawapublichealth.ca 613-580-6744