All retirement homes must have a complaints procedure in place to address complaints about the care of a resident or operation of the home. This complaints procedure must meet the requirements set out in the legislation.
If someone believes a retirement home is not following the Act, they can also file a formal complaint with the RHRA. The Registrar will review the complaint and may decide to take certain action, such as making inquiries, conducting an inspection, attempting mediation or resolution of the complaint, providing education to the complainant or the licensee, and/or issuing a written warning to the licensee.
The RHRA responds to reports about harm or risk of harm to retirement home residents resulting from certain events. These events include abuse, neglect, improper or incompetent care or treatment, unlawful conduct and misuse or misappropriation of a resident’s money.
To report harm or risk of harm to the RHRA, please call: 1-855-ASK-RHRA (275-7472). Reports can be made anonymously.
The licence status of homes that have applied for a retirement home licence is published on the RHRA’s public register, which can be found at www.rhra.ca. Once a licence certificate is issued, the home is required to post it in a visible area of the home.
There are over 700 licensed retirement homes in the province.
There are standards for resident care and safety which homes must meet, including:
- care standards (for example, provision of a meal, medication administration, assistance with dressing, feeding or ambulation);
- safety standards (for example, emergency plans, infection prevention and control programs, falls prevention, behaviour management, and food preparation); and
- other safeguards (for example,staff qualifications and training, trust accounts, and licensee complaints procedures).
There are a number of consumer protections for residents under the Act, including a Residents’ Bill of Rights.
The Residents’ Bill of Rights outlines several different rights. They include rights relating to the cost and delivery of care services the home provides; the right to choose an external care provider; the right to participate fully in care planning and decisions; rights that protect the privacy and lifestyle choices of residents; and the right to raise concerns to the RHRA or the home without fear of reprisal.
Homes must respect and promote the Bill of Rights, provide copies to residents and post the Bill in the home. Staff members must also receive training on the Bill.
Retirement homes are subject to the Act and Ontario Regulation 166/11. The Act is based on the principles of consumer protection and resident safety. It sets out resident rights and protections and corresponding obligations on operators of homes.
The Act complements (but is not meant to duplicate) other laws retirement homes are subject to, including:
- Residential Tenancies Act;
- Fire Prevention and Protection Act;
- Health Protection and Promotion Act; and
- Building Code Act.
Long-term care homes, often called nursing homes, are different from retirement homes. They are regulated by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and receive government funding. Retirement homes do not receive government funding.
Residents of retirement homes pay for the full cost of their accommodation and any care services they purchase from the home. Retirement homes decide the type of care services they will provide. Residents can purchase any of the care services offered by the home, or arrange for private care from external care providers (or a combination of both).
It is important to remember that retirement homes are homes, not institutions. Many residents are capable and independent, and can come and go as they please.
The RHRA is an independent, not-for-profit corporation established under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 (the Act) by the Ontario government.
The RHRA is not part of the Ontario government, nor is it a crown agency. The RHRA is responsible for administering the Act and its regulations, and protecting the rights and safety of senior living in Ontario retirement homes.
It also may provide advice to the Minister Responsible for Seniors and Accessibility on matters relating to the administration of the Act.
The RHRA is responsible for:
- licensing facilities that meet the definition of a retirement home under the Act;
- inspecting more than 700 licensed retirement homes across Ontario;
- informing the public, residents and retirement home operators about the Act and the role of the RHRA; and
- taking any and all action necessary to make sure the Act is being followed, including enforcement action such as fines or licence revocation, and, if required, prosecution of home operators.
To assist potential residents and families in making informed decisions, the RHRA also maintains a public register, which provides information about all licensed retirement homes, including the services they offer, inspection findings, and summaries of any enforcement actions taken. The register is available at www.rhra.ca.
The RHRA is self-funded. Retirement home licensees are charged a fee each year to cover the cost of RHRA’s operations and functions related to administering the legislation. The fee is based on the number of units in a retirement home.
Businesses that meet the definition of a retirement home under the Act must obtain a licence to operate a retirement home. A retirement home is a building, group of buildings, or a part of a building (with one or more rental units):
- occupied primarily by persons who are 65 years of age or older;
- occupied or intended to be occupied by at least six persons who are not related to the operator of the home; and
- where the operator of the home makes at least two care services available (directly or indirectly) to residents. Some facilities that meet these criteria may be exempt from the Act, for example if they receive certain government funding.
To obtain a licence, an applicant must submit an application to the RHRA’s Registrar. Among the criteria the Registrar considers are:
- the ability of the applicant to provide care services;
- the competency of the applicant to operate the home in a responsible manner in accordance with the Act; and
- the past conduct of the applicant affords and provides reasonable grounds to believe that the home will be operated in accordance with the law, with honesty and integrity, and in a manner that is not prejudicial to the health, safety or welfare of residents.
In considering an application, the Registrar applies these criteria to owners, and to directors and officers, if the applicant is a corporation. The Registrar may obtain further information from the applicant through inquiries, inspection, investigation, etc.
Once the Registrar reviews the application, the Registrar may:
- issue a licence;
- issue a licence with conditions; or
- refuse to issue a licence. Please visit the Applying for a Licence page for more information.