Taking the first steps toward long-term care for yourself or a loved one can feel overwhelming. While there is a lot to consider, you are not alone.

All applications and admissions to long-term care homes are arranged by Home and Community Care Support Services organizations, and they will help you along the way.

Start with Home and Community Care Support Services

If you still live in your own home and this is your first time looking for support, contact Home and Community Care Support services to learn about the options available. You can find your local Home and Community Care Support Services by:

If you are in hospital, the hospital will have a care coordinator (employed through Home and Community Care Support Services) who can help you.

The application process

Your first call to Home and Community Care Support Services will determine whether a care coordinator should visit you for an in-person assessment.

At this visit, the care coordinator will assess your health, and may conduct other assessments as well, including:

  • capacity assessment
  • functional assessment
  • behavioural assessment

With this information, your care coordinator will be able to talk with you about your needs and the options for meeting them. For example, you may be able to stay in your own home with  help from supports in your community, such as personal support worker visits or community paramedicine.

If long-term care is the best approach, and you have not already done so, visit Choosing a Long-Term Care Home to start thinking about what’s important to you in a home and where you might like to apply.  

The application package

You apply for long-term care through Home and Community Care Support Services. They will complete most of the application, usually during an in-person meeting with you.

You are responsible for completing the choice form, where you can select up to five homes, in order of preference. You can do this during the in-person meeting if you have already researched homes and know where you want to apply, or you can complete it afterwards.

Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care

While you or a family member are waiting for placement in a long-term care home, the Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care program can help you stay healthy in your own home, and avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital emergency room.

You are eligible to receive community paramedicine for long-term care services if you:

  • are on the waitlist for long-term care
  • have been assessed as eligible (but are not yet on the waitlist)
  • will soon be eligible for long-term care (you are waiting for an eligibility assessment or have specific circumstances or conditions that would benefit from services)

To learn more about the community paramedicine services offered in your area, contact your local Home and Community Care Support Services organization. Call 310-2222 (no area code required) to be connected to the office closest to your calling location.

Wait times and placement offers

Wait times for long-term care homes vary widely, but once you apply it’s important to start preparing for your move. When a spot does become available you will receive a placement offer that includes a move-in date.

You will then have 24 hours to accept or reject the placement offer, and up to five days to move in.

You should also be aware that you will be expected to start paying on your move-in date, regardless of when you arrive.

If you are offered a place in a home that is not your first choice, you can:

  • accept the placement offer
  • move in, but choose to stay on the waiting list for a transfer into your first choice of home (understanding that this may take a long time)
  • reject the placement offer

If you turn down the placement offer, or fail to move into the home by your move-in date deadline, you will be removed from every waiting list you’re on. You will then be required to wait 12 weeks before you can reapply for long-term care, unless there is a significant change in your condition or circumstances.

Under covid 19 provisions you may be able to refuse admission to a home without being removed from any waiting lists. Talk to your placement coordinator for more information.

Rejection of your application

Homes are allowed to reject applications only for very specific reasons, such as not being able to meet your care needs. For example, a home can reject your application if you need a specific type of medical equipment and the home doesn’t have it or doesn’t have the staff to support it.

Getting ready to move

Because you will need to be ready to go when your placement offer arrives, preparing in advance will help your move go smoothly.

Check with the home to see if you can complete some of the admission process before move-in day.

Here are some more tips.

Documents and important information

Make sure to set aside funds to pay for the first month’s accommodation. (For information about costs and subsidies, see Paying for Long-Term Care.)

On move-in day, you will need to have these items ready to show or give to the home’s administrator:

  • your valid Ontario health card
  • proof of up-to-date covid 19 vaccination
  • cards for any private medical coverage
  • a void cheque to set up automatic payments for accommodation and other fees
  • emergency contact phone numbers
  • power of attorney documents
  • all medications (or a list of current medications from the pharmacy) so the administrator can record prescription information. The home will provide medications in future

What to pack

Bring these items with you when you move into your long-term care home:

  • machine-washable clothing (the home will take care of washable laundry, but not dry cleaning)
  • medication
  • mobility devices or other aids that you own, such as a:
    • cane or walker
    • wheelchair
    • raised toilet seat
  • other personal aids, such as eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids
  • personal toiletries
  • familiar items that will make the room feel like home, like pictures, a bedspread or small pieces of furniture that will fit in the room

Make sure all personal items are labelled with your name in case they are misplaced.

What not to pack

Do not bring:

  • electric items such as a:
    • clothing iron
    • kettle
    • heating pad
  • cleaning supplies
  • your own bed or mattress

Check with the home about any other items that might not be allowed.

When you arrive

The home’s staff will greet you and take you to your room. They will answer your questions and help you get comfortable.