All the terms used to describe seniors living, wellness and care options can be confusing! Let us help.

Accreditation Canada

Accreditation Canada is a not-for-profit organization that works with patients, policy makers, and the public to improve the quality of health and social services for all.

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Adult Day Services

Adult Day Services are usually run by local health authorities. A senior will travel to a location in their community, usually 1-2 days per week. There, they may receive a variety of services; including personal assistance, health care services, organized programming and recreation, or help with things like bathing.

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Assisted Living

Assisted living homes are for seniors who can still live independently and make decisions for themselves but require additional support due to physical or health challenges. Assisted living services provide housing, hospitality services (like meals and homemaking), and personal care services.

For those who qualify, this seniors living option is available through your local health authority as a publicly subsidized service (seniors pay 70 per cent of their monthly income). Assisted living is also available on a private pay basis.


The Assurity quality assurance certification was developed by the experts at EngAge BC to make it easier for seniors and their families to choose an independent living or home health organization that upholds industry standards for quality. An Assurity certified independent living or home health operator will have the Assurity logo displayed on their listing. By having the Assurity symbol, it means that the organization has made it a priority to meet or exceed industry standards for quality.

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Campus of Care

Campuses of care offer different levels of care (e.g., independent living, assisted living, and long-term care) at the same location. This can be a good option for couples who need different levels of care, or for seniors who want to stay in one place as they age.


CARF International is an accreditor of health and human services. CARF assists service providers in improving the quality of their services, demonstrating value, and meeting internationally recognized organizational and program standards.

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Certificate of Recognition (COR)

The Partners Program, also known as the certificate of recognition (COR), encourages employers to create an occupational health and safety management system that goes beyond the current legal requirements. The voluntary program recognizes employers that are proactive about improving workplace safety, and dedicated to continual improvement.

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Home Health

Home care and home support (home health) options enable seniors to get the help they need at home.

Options range from publicly subsidized care, which is delivered through the person’s local health authority, to customized approaches on a private pay basis that can include medical care, transportation, companionship, and homemaking.

Independent Living

Independent living is a good option for seniors who are confident in their ability to live alone safely, but who don’t want to worry about things like home maintenance, housekeeping, or cooking.

Seniors who choose independent living enjoy amenities and activities available in their retirement community and can feel confident knowing that help is there if they need it. Independent living residents can often bring in home support or purchase additional support services should the need arise.

Seniors pay for independent living privately. See the Supportive Housing section below for more information about options for low-income seniors.

More information on the benefits of accessing independent living services are highlighted in EngAge BC’s Aging In Place, But Better publication. Click here to download a printable copy of the report.

LGBTQ2+-Inclusive allows participating operators to self-identify as LGBTQ2+-inclusive* organizations with an indicator tag on The LGBTQ2+-inclusive tag indicates that an organization considers itself to be LGBTQ2+-inclusive and commits to having organizational policies, procedures and practices in place that foster LGBTQ2+-inclusivity.

You can find a list of operators that identify as LGBTQ2+-inclusive on by clicking here.

*LGBTQ2+ is an acronym for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-Spirit, Queer and Questioning”

Life Leases

Life leases are a unique seniors living model whereby a pre-paid lease payment is provided by a tenant in exchange for a life-time right to occupy a unit. Some independent living operators may offer life lease options.

Long-Term Care

Long-term care homes are sometimes called seniors care homes, residential care homes, or nursing homes.

Care homes are an option for seniors who need 24-hour professional support and care because of their physical or health needs, or because they have advanced Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. For many seniors, this is the best option when the person can no longer be cared for in their own home or in an assisted living home.

To access publicly subsidized long-term care, you must first contact your local Home and Community Care Office. They will perform an assessment to ensure this type of care is the right fit. Eligible residents will pay 80 per cent of their after-tax income.

Seniors can also pay privately for long-term care. In this case, they or their family member can contact the care home directly.

Memory Care

Memory care is a type of long-term care that provides services specifically designed to assist people living with a dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or another memory impairment.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is focused on improving the quality of life of people who are experiencing a life-limiting illness. Services may be received at home or in another setting such as a hospice and may be accessed through the senior’s local health authority or as a private-pay service.

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Private Pay Options

The senior or their family pays for services directly.

Publicly Subsidized Options

The government pays some or all costs for eligible seniors needing access to home health care, assisted living, long-term care, respite care, or palliative care. All publicly subsidized care must be accessed through the senior’s local health authority.

Respite Care

Respite care is a good option when a caregiver needs a break, or when a senior is waiting to transition into another care environment but is no longer safe to be at home, even with support.

Respite care can take several forms including adult day programs, at home respite, or residential respite, where a senior will receive temporary accommodation or assistance on day-to-day needs at a care home for a specific period.

Respite care is available as a private pay service or may be publicly subsidized for eligible seniors.

Seniors’ Supportive Housing

Supportive housing is like independent living, but services are geared toward low-income seniors and are available through the Seniors’ Supportive Housing Program by BC Housing. The program provides housing and support services to older adults, seniors and people with disabilities.

Seniors supportive housing tenants generally pay 50 per cent of their gross income as rent. If you receive income assistance, have a very low income or have another agreement with your housing provider, you may be asked to pay a fixed amount instead.

Wait times for this program can vary and it’s difficult to predict when a suitable unit will become available. Interested applicants must apply through BC Housing.

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