Operating a Seniors' Assisted Living Residence

If a residence or a part of a residence meets the definition of assisted living according to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, an operator is required to register the residence with the assisted living registrar, whether publicly subsidized or private-pay. 

The goal of assisted living is to provide individuals with housing, appropriate support and personal assistance services that enable them to maintain an optimal level of independence. The principles of assisted living — choice, privacy, independence, individuality, dignity and respect — come from the recognition that adults, although they may need support and assistance in daily life, maintain the right to manage their own lives. Operators of assisted living residences play an important role in supporting and promoting the goal and principles of assisted living.

Obligations of Operators

To become registered (see below "How to Register") and to maintain registration, operators must operate assisted living residences in a way that does not jeopardize the health or safety of residents, which includes:

  • Complying with the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, Regulations, Health and Safety Standards.
  • Not accepting or continuing to provide housing and services to people who are unable to make decisions on their own behalf unless:
    • the resident lives with a spouse who is able to make decisions on behalf of the resident.
  • Protecting residents from abuse and neglect by complying with the Criminal Records Review Act to ensure that owners, site managers, employees, contractors and volunteers have a current criminal record review (within 5 years).
  • Maintaining a watchful eye over residents’ health and safety.
  • Providing professional oversight of non-professional staff, as required.
  • Informing residents, staff and visitors about how to make a complaint, including:
    • how to make an internal complaint at the residence;
    • how to make a complaint to the assisted living registrar;
    • how to make a complaint to the health authority patient care quality office (for residents living in publicly subsidized units); and,
    • ensuring the complaint process and contact information for the assisted living registrar and the health authority patient care quality office is readily accessible.
  • Not preventing or intimidate anyone from reporting their concerns to the assisted living registrar and/or the health authority patient care quality office.
  • Renewing registration annually and advising the registrar of any changes to registration information.

Operator/Registrant Info

The Registrant Handbook for Seniors is a guide for day-to-day residence operations, staff training and interaction with assisted living registry staff.

The registrar also sets the minimum Seniors Health and Safety Standards (found in the Handbook), these standards are the same for publicly subsidized and private-pay assisted living units and are not optional. 

Serious Incident Reporting

A serious incident form must be completed by the residence site manager after a serious incident has occurred. Serious incidents include :

  • attempted suicide by a resident;
  • unexpected deaths;
  • abuse or neglect;
  • medication errors;
  • fire or flood;
  • missing persons; and
  • police calls.

Serious Incident Report(PDF, 136KB) may be faxed to (250) 953-0496), or emailed to Hlth.assistedlivingregistry@gov.bc.ca ,  no later than the next business day after a serious incident has occurred.

Staffing

Assisted living provides housing with supports (hospitality and prescribed services) rather than ongoing care. There are no specific staffing requirements about the maximum number of residents per staff person in assisted living. All staff (whether they are employees or on contract) and volunteers must have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities and training to perform their tasks and meet the health and safety of residents. Operators must provide professional oversight of unregulated care providers – i.e., by a registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse or licensed practical nurse. Site managers do not need specific background or training, though site management must be effective and appropriate to the resident population. The health and safety standards require that operators:

  • ensure that staff who provide prescribed services have a home support and/or resident care aide certificate or equivalent;
  • maintain documentation on staff selection and training; and,
  • assign a person with appropriate training and skills to develop a personal service plan for each resident.

Operators must provide a 24-hour emergency response system that is appropriate to the needs of the residents and meets the unique features of their building and location. An operator can adopt a combination of staffing, procedural and/or mechanical or electronic emergency call devices. Many residences have staff on-site to provide a 24-hour emergency response.

The Role of Health Professionals

The provincial Personal Assistance Guidelines (PDF, 172KB) and the medication services health and safety standards require a professional (e.g., a registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse, occupational therapist or physical therapist) to delegate certain tasks, such as assisting with medication. Delegation of a task means that the professional is responsible for determining that it is safe and suitable to delegate a particular task for a specific resident to an unregulated care provider. The professional teaches the unregulated care provider how to perform the task and is responsible for supervising how the delegated task is carried out. In assisted living for seniors, typically a registered nurse performs delegation.

Licensed practical nurses (LPN) can accept a delegated task, provide oversight and assign tasks to an unregulated care provider, provided the task is within the LPN’s scope of practice and the LPN is competent to do the task them self,  but they cannot delegate tasks. For more information about delegating and assigning tasks, please see the

Complaints

Assisted living registry staff investigate complaints related to the health and safety of persons living in assisted living residences. Anyone with a concern about the health or safety of an assisted living resident can make a complaint to the registry.

Substantiated complaints are posted on the assisted living registry website next to the residence contact information for five years.

Legislation

Operators of assisted living residences must comply with all applicable legislation, which includes:

Operators are also expected to meet local government bylaws and should consult their local government to find out what bylaws apply to assisted living residences.

How to Register a Seniors’ Assisted Living Residence

For assistance with determining whether you will need to register your residence please review Should I register my residence? (PDF, 1.09MB)

The Application Process

An applicant should complete the Prescribed Services Worksheet to determine if they are providing prescribed services in any of the six service areas described in the Community Care and Assisted Living Regulation. If an applicant is or intends to provide one or two prescribed services, they are required to register their residence. A residence providing more than three prescribed services cannot be registered as an assisted living residence as community care facility licence may be required. See Residential Care Facilities

Application Form

View the application and the required document checklist or contact assisted living registry. A one-time non-refundable application fee of $250 must be included with the completed application form. All cheques must be made payable to the Minister of Finance.

In addition to the completed application form, an applicant must also provide copies of information and/or documents as set out in the relevant health and safety standards.

An annual registration fee of $12.50 per registered unit will be required if a registration is approved. The registration year runs April 1 – March 31. Registration fees are prorated:

  • Residences that begin operation between April 1st and September 30th, pay $12.50 per unit.
  • Residences that begin operation between October 1st and March 31st, pay $6.25 per unit.

Submit the completed application form, the prescribed services worksheet, required documentation checklist and registration fee to:

Assisted Living Registry
Ministry of Health
PO Box 9638 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9P1

Email: Hlth.assistedlivingregistry@gov.bc.ca 

It is recommended to submit the application information at least two months before opening a residence, the residence cannot operate until the application is approved. 

The Application Review Process

When an operator’s application is received, registry staff will:

  • contact the applicant by phone or by email to inform them that their application has been received;
  • send the applicant a registrant handbook and complaint brochures;
  • review the application and identify if information is incomplete or missing or if the information does not appear to meet health and safety standards;
  • inform the applicant if information is incomplete or missing;
  • follow up on any outstanding gaps in the application, or in meeting the health and safety standards that need to be addressed;
  • schedule and conduct a telephone interview with the operator and site manager to review the application and ensure the applicant is aware of and complies with the health and safety standards; and
  • arrange a site inspection.

Approval of Registration

The application will be approved for registration when the registrar is satisfied that the housing, hospitality services and prescribed services will be provided to residents in a manner that will not jeopardize their health and safety.

When the application has been approved, registry staff will:

  • Issue an invoice for the registration fees;
  • Upon receipt of payment, issue a registration certificate; and
  • Update the assisted living registry and the assisted living registry website listings.

Refusal of Registration

If the registrar is not satisfied that services can be provided in a manner that will ensure resident health and safety, and decides to refuse the registration, the registry staff will advise the applicant in writing of the reasons for the decision and the reconsideration process.

The applicant will then have 30 days in which to submit reasons why the decision should be reconsidered. If the application for registration is still refused, the applicant may appeal to the Community Care and Assisted Living Appeal Board.