Living in an MHSU Assisted Living Residence

Assisted living is for adults who are able to direct the services they need and live in a semi-independent environment. Residents will receive housing, hospitality services and at least one and no more than two prescribed services.

Entering an Assisted Living Residence

Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) assisted living residences vary in a number of ways. For example, the physical environment, the expectations for residents, the psychosocial rehabilitation programming that’s offered can vary from one residence to the next. Before entering an MHSU residence, a person should find out about the following:

  • is the residence co-ed or exclusively for men or women?
  • will the resident have to share a room, and if so, with how many people?
  • are residents subject to drug or alcohol testing and/or room searches?
  • what is the residence’s internal complaint policy?
  • will the residence accommodate any food allergies, intolerances or preferences?
  • what are the residence’s rules of conduct? What is the consequence for breaking house rules?
  • what is the residence’s approach to recovery?
  • is there an expectation of abstinence and zero tolerance for substance use? What is the consequence if a resident is found using substances?
  • is the program, faith-based, or based on a 12-step program, or other?
  • what belongings can the resident bring with them to the residence? what items are not permitted?
  • how long will an operator store a resident’s belongings after he or she leaves the residence?

Most of these items should be covered in written information provided by the operator before a person enters an MHSU residence. Operators are required to have new residents sign an occupancy/residency agreement and a consent- to-service form. Residents should keep a copy for themselves for future reference.

What to Expect

Regardless of what MHSU assisted living residence a resident is in, the following is expected at every residence:

  • all residents are 19 years of age or older
  • residents provide consent to service in writing
  • some form of secure storage is available to residents
  • common space is available for residents’ use
  • if taking medications, residents can choose what pharmacy to use (though an operator may encourage use of a common pharmacy)
  • someone working at the residence has FoodSafe training and certification
  • residents are involved in the process to develop a personal service plan that identifies their needs and goals
  • the resident’s rent covers (i.e., they should not be charged extra for):
    • meals
    • use of laundry equipment and supplies
    • use of cleaning supplies
    • use of phone for emergencies (or other emergency response system)
    • support with accessing social and recreational activities in the community
    • support with recovery goals through personal services planning and psychosocial rehabilitation programming (groups, life skills training, etc.)

Operators of MHSU assisted living residences must:

  • provide a safe, secure environment free from alcohol and illegal drugs
  • provide a “watchful eye” over residents, to ensure their health and safety
  • engage residents in personal services planning
  • respect the privacy of residents and their personal information

Assisted living residences are not meant for persons who are detoxing from substances and require intensive medical attention. Homes where residents are living independently in the community without regular support from staff (sometimes referred to as “third stage” housing or “sober living”) are not registered as assisted living residences. Assisted living for persons with substance use problems may be referred to as “supportive recovery” or “second stage recovery housing”.