British Columbia

An overview of seniors' care in B.C.

A look at the long-term care facilities available to B.C. seniors, and what you can expect to pay.

An estimated 70 per cent of people over the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care in their lives.

The range of facilities includes:

  • Independent living: For seniors who can mostly care for themselves but may need help with services like housekeeping, laundry or transportation.
  • Assisted living: For seniors who need assistance with daily living but do not need daily skilled nursing care.
  • Residential care: Also known as nursing homes, these facilities are for seniors who need daily skilled nursing care and often have a prolonged illness or disability.

The B.C. government spends $1.7 billion every year on seniors' housing — and even though only about seven per cent of people end up in residential care, it's a booming business.

Most B.C. seniors will need some form of long-term care in their lives, but there's a vast range in facilities and price. (CBC)

In B.C., 32 per cent of residential care facilities are owned and operated by the health authorities, while the remaining 68 per cent are run by private operators. More than 26,000 of the province's residential care beds are publicly subsidized.

The three largest contracted private for-profit residential care providers — Retirement Concepts, Revera Long Term Care and Ahmon Group — receive approximately $162 million of the total funding, or about 10 per cent.

Admissions to subsidized residential care beds are managed by the local health authority.

Fees for subsidized beds are based on income level, with patients paying up to 80 per cent of their after-tax income. British Columbians can expect to pay anywhere from $932 to a maximum of $3,022 per month towards residential care.

Seniors can also choose a private nursing home with no government subsidies at a significantly higher cost.

SunLife Financial, an international life insurance company, estimates private residential care ranges from about $4,000 up to about $9,000 per month, depending on the facility and type of room.