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 are in your own home, you can find your local Home and Community Care Support Services by:

When you call, you will be matched with a placement coordinator who will help you with your application.

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 will start with an interview to find out if your needs can be met by other supports in your community (such as local community support services agencies or community paramedicine), or if you are eligible for long-term care.

Next, your Home and Community Care Support Services will send a care coordinator to do a health assessment. Other assessments may be required at this time, including a:

  • functional assessment
  • behavioural assessment
  • consenting capacity assessment

If the assessments show that you are eligible, and you have not already researched long-term care homes, your placement coordinator will discuss your options with you.

The application package

Depending on your situation, the application package may be available online, mailed to you, or given to you directly by a Home and Community Care Support Services placement or care coordinator.

The placement coordinator will help you with the application, but you will have to complete some sections yourself. This includes listing your home choices and signing the choices list.

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 have 24 hours to accept or reject the admission offer, and up to five days to move in.

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
  • reject the placement offer

If you turn down the placement, or fail to move into the home by the fifth day after the day you were offered admission, you will be removed from every waiting list you’re on. You will then be required to wait 12 weeks before you can reapply, unless there is a significant change in your condition or circumstances.

Note: 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 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

Once you receive a long-term care admission offer, you’ll have five days to move in. 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 tips.

Documents and important information

Make sure to set aside funds to pay for the first month’s accommodation.

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

  • your Ontario health card
  • cards for any private medical coverage
  • a void cheque to set up automatic payments for accommodation and other fees
  • emergency contact phone numbers
  • your rate-reduction application (if eligible)
  • 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.