Long-Term Care Services

Long-term care services provide 24-hour professional supervision and care in a protective, supportive environment for people who have complex care needs and can no longer be cared for in their own homes or in an assisted living residence. Long-term care services include:

  • standard accommodation;
  • development and maintenance of a care plan;
  • clinical support services (e.g., rehabilitation and social work services) as identified in the care plan;
  • ongoing, planned physical, social and recreational activities (e.g., exercise, music programs, crafts, games);
  • meals, including therapeutic diets prescribed by a physician, and tube feeding;
  • meal replacements and nutrition supplements as specified in the care plan or by a physician;
  • routine laundry service for bed linens, towels, washcloths and all articles of clothing that can be washed without special attention to the laundering process;
  • general hygiene supplies, including but not limited to soap, shampoo, toilet tissue, and special products required for use with facility bathing equipment;
  • routine medical supplies;
  • incontinence management;
  • basic wheelchairs for personal exclusive use;
  • basic cleaning and basic maintenance of wheelchairs; and
  • any other specialized service (e.g., specialized dementia or palliative care) as needed by the client that the long-term care home has been contracted to provide.

For more information on wheelchairs, see Client FAQs (below).

If you require long-term  care services, supportive and compassionate care is provided in long-term care homes with the goal of preserving an individual’s comfort, dignity and quality of life as their needs change, and to offer ongoing support for family and friends. For more information about hospice care and end-of-life care services provided in long-term care homes, go to:

For more information about long-term care services, go to:

Is this care right for me?

Long-term care services are for people who can no longer be cared for in their own homes or in an assisted living residence and:

  • have severe behavioural problems on a continuous basis;
  • are cognitively impaired, ranging from moderate to severe;
  • are physically dependent, with medical needs that require professional nursing care, and a planned program to retain or improve functional ability; or
  • are clinically complex, with multiple disabilities and/or complex medical conditions that require professional nursing care, monitoring and/or specialized skilled care.

What are the long-term care eligibility criteria?

In addition to the general eligibility criteria for home and community care services, to be eligible for long-term care services you:

  • have been assessed as having 24-hour professional nursing supervision and care needs that cannot be adequately met in your home or by housing and health services;
  • are at significant risk by remaining in your current living environment, and the degree of risk is not manageable using available community resources and services;
  • have an urgent need for long-term care services;
  • have been investigated and treated for medical causes of disability and dependency that may have been remedial;
  • have a caregiver living with unacceptable risk to their well-being, have a caregiver who is no longer able to provide care and support, or do not have a caregiver; and
  • have agreed to pay your assessed rate (see Home and Community Care Policy Manual, Policy 7.B, Income Based Clients) and charges for any optional services, programs or supplies that you choose, that are not included as a benefit but are offered by the long-term care home.

To read the general eligibility criteria for all home and community care services, go to:

How do I arrange for long-term care services?

If you are interested in receiving long-term care services or know of someone who might need these services, you can contact your health authority's home and community care office, or you can have a health care professional make a referral on your behalf.

For contact information and a detailed description of how to arrange for long-term care services, please see:

Veterans please note:

If you are a veteran and you are eligible for home and community care services, your health authority is required to contact Veterans Affairs Canada for an assessment of eligibility for federal benefits and arrange your placement on their veterans’ priority access bed waitlist for those long-term care homes with veterans’ priority access beds.

Access to Long-Term Care Services

If you and the health authority professionals working with you determine that you qualify for publicly subsidized long-term care services, your health authority will provide you with detailed information on the long-term care homes that meet your care needs and are located in your chosen geographic area, including average wait times for admission. You will have the ability to choose up to three preferred care homes and your name will be placed on the waitlist for those homes.  If you can wait safely at home, you will be offered support services until a bed is available.  If you cannot wait safely at home, you will be offered a bed in an interim care home until a bed is available in your preferred care home.   Your waitlist date will be the date you choose your preferred care homes and you will maintain your position on the waitlist regardless of where you are waiting. The primary criteria for choosing which client is offered care and accommodation in a long-term care home is wait time (i.e., those who have been waiting longest get highest priority), with consideration for situations where a client is at an intolerable risk or for the reunification of spouses residing in different long-term care homes. Wait times vary for each care home and fluctuate over the course of time.

Exceptional situations that may result in a higher ranking for a client include: repatriating a client who was temporarily admitted to a care home outside of their community or to a hospital; closure of a client’s care home; temporary pressures, such as a natural disaster and/or a need to relieve pressure on a hospital on a short-term, time-limited basis.

How do I decide which long-term care home is best for me?

Your health care professional will provide you with detailed information regarding the long-term care homes that meet your individual care needs, including average wait times. It is advisable that you visit the long-term care homes on the list.

There are many things to consider as you plan for your future care needs.  In B.C., long-term care services and support options are available from both publicly subsidized and private pay long-term care homes. The following booklet contains information about eligibility, cost, services, oversight, and practical examples of things to consider when selecting a long-term care home:

In addition to the information provided to you regarding specific long-term care homes, many care homes have an information brochure or package that provides an overview of their philosophy and services, and answers many of your questions.

You can also ask for the admissions agreement or similar documentation. An admission agreement will clarify what services are provided, what services are not available, and any extra charges that may apply for a given long-term care home. Many long-term care homes also have their own websites.

To learn more about long-term care homes in your region, visit the long-term care pages on your health authority’s website using the links below:

Offer of Care and Accommodation

Once you are offered care and accommodation in a preferred care home, you have 48 hours to accept an offer and move into your preferred care home.  If you are offered care and accommodation in an interim care home, you have 72 hours to accept an offer and move into the interim care home. If you decline an offer of care and accommodation in an interim care home, you will remain eligible for access to long-term care services and remain on the waitlist for your preferred care homes. The health authority will advise you of your options while waiting for your preferred care home.

If you believe you will not be able to move within the 48-hour period or have concerns about managing the cost of the move, speak with your health authority. 

How do I transfer from an interim care home to my preferred care home?

While every effort is made to offer you care and accommodation in your preferred care home, if there is no vacancy in your preferred care home(s), you may first be offered care and accommodation in an interim care home. If you accept care and accommodation in an interim care home, you will retain your position on the waitlist for your preferred care home. At any time while in an interim care home, you can decide to remain there.

The amount of time you wait before you are offered the opportunity to transfer to your preferred care home will depend on several factors, including the number of people who are waiting to transfer to that long-term care home. Average wait times for specific long-term care homes are available through the health authority.

If you are paying privately for long-term care services while waiting for access to publicly-subsidized care, you cannot be guaranteed your subsidized bed will be in the same long-term care home. If the long-term care home that you are living in has publicly-subsidized beds, you can identify that long-term care home as one of your preferred care homes. If there is no availability in one of your preferred care homes, you may be offered a publicly-subsidized bed in an interim care home. If this is the case, you will retain your original wait time for your preferred care home.

Choosing to pay privately for residential care should not impact the length of time you wait for an offer of care and accommodation in a publicly-subsidized long-term care home. If you have concerns with the length of time that you have been waiting, you should raise your concerns with your health care professional.

Changing Selection of Preferred Care Homes

You may change your selection of preferred care homes until you are offered care and accommodation in one of them and, upon making the change, will maintain your original waitlist date. If you change your selection at the time of or after being offered care and accommodation in one of your preferred care homes, your waitlist date for admission will be changed to the date at which you amended your choice of preferred care homes.

Client Transfers Between Health Authorities

If you are eligible for or receiving long-term care services, you may at any time, request admission to a long-term care home in another health authority. The health authority where you reside will provide you with options for long-term care homes appropriate to meet your care needs in your selected health authority.

If you are in hospital and cannot safely go home, and you want to transfer to another health authority, but there is no availability in a long-term care home in the receiving health authority, the health authority where you currently reside must offer care and accommodation to you in an interim care home until a there is availability in the receiving health authority.

For further information on transferring long-term care services between health authorities, please refer to the Home and Community Care Policy Manual, Policy 6.D.

Couples in Long-Term Care

When both spouses are eligible for long-term care services, the health authority makes every effort to place couples in a long-term care home together.

When only one member of a couple is eligible, and the couple wishes to stay together, the health authority will explore, with the couple, those options that may help to maintain and support their relationship.

For more information, refer to:

Community Care Facility Reports

Health authorities post summary inspection reports on their websites for routine and follow-up inspections of community care facilities licensed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act or licensed or designated under the Hospital Act. The reports include information relating to substantiated complaints and inspections.

Family and Resident Councils

A family and/or resident council is a group of persons who either live in a long-term care home or are the contact persons, representatives or relatives of long-term care home residents, and who meet regularly to identify opportunities to maintain and enhance the quality of life for the care home clients, and to engage with staff to contribute a voice in decisions which affect the clients. A resident/family council is self-led, self-determining and democratic.

Is there a cost for long-term care services?

If you receive publicly subsidized long-term care services, you will pay a monthly rate of up to 80 per cent of your after tax income towards the cost of secure, supervised housing and care services, subject to a minimum and maximum monthly rate. Your monthly rate is calculated based on your “after tax income” (as defined in the Continuing Care Fees Regulation) in one of two ways:

If your after tax income is less than $19,500 per year, your monthly rate is calculated as your after tax income less $3,900 and divided by 12 (Formula A).

Note: The $3,900 deduction ($325 per month X 12 months) is set to ensure that most clients have at least $325 of income remaining per month after paying their monthly rate.

If your after tax income is equal to or greater than $19,500 per year, your monthly rate is calculated as your after tax income multiplied by 80 per cent and divided by 12 (Formula B).

For more information on how your after tax income is calculated, please see:

The minimum monthly rate is adjusted each year based on changes to the Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplement (OAS/GIS) rate as of July 1 of the previous year. For 2019, the minimum monthly rate for a client receiving long-term care services is $1,162.80 per month.

If you and your spouse are sharing a room in a long-term care home and are both in receipt of the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefit at the married rate, your monthly rate will be calculated based on your after tax income, subject to a minimum and maximum monthly rate. For 2019, the minimum monthly rate for a couple sharing a room and both in receipt of the GIS benefit at the married rate is $808.15 per month per person.

The maximum client rate is adjusted each year based on changes to the Consumer Price Index over the previous year. For 2019, the maximum monthly rate for a client receiving long-term care services is $3,377.10 per month.

For more general information on the costs of publicly subsidized home and community care services in B.C., please see:

If payment of your assessed monthly rate would cause you or your family serious financial hardship, you may apply to your health authority for a temporary reduction. For more information, please see below, "What if I cannot afford my assessed monthly rate?”.

What if I cannot afford my assessed monthly rate?

If you are receiving long-term care services and payment of your assessed monthly rate would cause you or your family serious financial hardship, you may be eligible for a reduced rate.

Serious financial hardship means that payment of your assessed monthly rate would result in you (or your spouse, if applicable) being unable to pay for:

  • adequate food;
  • monthly mortgage/rent;
  • sufficient home heat;
  • prescribed medication; or
  • other required prescribed health care services.

For more information on eligibility and how to apply for a temporary rate reduction of your monthly rate, please see:

What optional services can I choose to pay for in addition to my monthly rate?

Long-term care homes may also offer you optional equipment, products, and services in addition to those that are included as part of your long-term care services. If you choose to receive any of these optional services, you may be required to pay an additional fee over and above your monthly rate. These optional services may include:

  • personal cable connection and monthly fee;
  • personal telephone connection and basic services;
  • nutrition supplements, where the client requests a specific commercial brand rather than the brand provided by the long-term care home;
  • personal newspaper, magazines and periodicals;
  • hearing aids and batteries, including replacement batteries;
  • personal transportation;
  • extra or optional craft supplies, entertainment and recreational activities that are additional to activities and supplies provided as benefits above, and are chosen by the client;
  • an administration or handling fee associated with the service, where reasonable, to perform a task or service that would normally be the client’s responsibility;
  • purchase or rental of equipment that is for the exclusive use of the client (e.g., walker, crutches, canes or other devices, and maintenance as required);
  • modifications to basic wheelchairs/ modified wheelchairs, specialized wheelchairs, as per Policy 6.F.1;
  • therapist fees for assessment and determination of modified wheelchair and specialized wheelchairs;
  • miscellaneous charges associated with wheelchair cleaning and maintenance such as non-basic maintenance services, emergency cleaning, and damage;
  • companion services;
  • personal dry cleaning or laundry services for items requiring special attention; and
  • personal hygiene and grooming supplies that the client chooses in preference to general supplies provided by the long-term care home including:

- facial tissue
- hand lotion
- denture cleaner
- brush and comb
- toothpaste 
- hair shampoo and conditioner
- talcum powder
- shaving cream
- special soap
- preferred incontinence supplies.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Wheelchairs for Long-Term Care (including short-stay) Clients

  1. What is the policy on basic wheelchairs in long-term care homes?

    Long-term  care clients who reside in publicly-subsidized long-term care homes have access to a free basic wheelchair for personal exclusive use, if required. Basic maintenance and basic cleaning of the basic wheelchairs will also be provided as a free benefit. For additional information, please speak with your long-term care home.
     
  2. What qualifies as a basic wheelchair?

    A basic wheelchair is a manual, self-propelled, safe and durable wheelchair that enhances personal mobility; has a basic contoured seat cushion; and which is reasonable to obtain and maintain. A basic wheelchair is a wheelchair without modification, upgrade, customization or specialization. A custom-made wheelchair is not a basic wheelchair. Bariatric wheelchairs and wheelchairs with super-low seating are not basic wheelchairs. For additional information, please speak with your long-term care home.
     
  3. I am eligible/ have access to wheelchair benefits from another organization, can I utilize both sets of benefits?

    No. If you are eligible for wheelchair benefits from other organizations (such as Veteran’s Affairs Canada, Worker’s Compensation, etc.), you do not qualify for the wheelchair benefit provided through the Ministry of Health, Home and Community Care Program.

    If you have extended health benefits, which provide assistance with wheelchairs, discuss your options with your long-term care home.