Long-Term Residential Care Homes in British Columbia

Long-Term Residential Care Homes in British Columbia


Long-term residential care homes (also called, nursing homes, long-term care, or extended care) are facilities for those that have complex care needs requiring 24/7 care and support who cannot be cared for in their own homes or in an assisted living residence. Residents are provided with meals, medication assistance, assistance with activities of daily living, and social/recreational programs. The governing legislation (Residential Care Regulations) that sets out standards for ‘health and safety, building requirements, food service, administering medications and resident care”, is The Community Care and Assisted Living Act[1]. Available facilities range from smaller group home type settings to large stand-alone structures or those that are part of larger Campus’ of Care. Some will offer a short-term stay option for convalescent care, respite, or palliation. Eligibility for a government-subsidized Residential Care facility is determined by the Regional Health Authority. Those assessed as having the greatest need will be given priority for admission to the first available and appropriate bed. Once a bed offer is made, the potential resident must move into the residence within 48 hours.

Health Authorities are responsible for investigating complaints and inspecting long-term residential care homes to ensure they meet the standards set by the government.

Fees for publicly-funded homes are determined by the person’s after-tax income based on a specific formula. There are also private-pay residential care homes where no subsidies are available. The private homes set their own fees and manage their own waiting lists and admission procedures[2].

As of January 1, 2019[3], the cost of care (client rate) in a publicly-funded residential care home in BC is based on the following:

1. Annual income less than $19,500.00 = minimum cost is $1,162.80/month[4]

2. Minimum client rate for spouses who share a room in a residential care home, and both receive GIS (married rate) = $808.15/month/each

3. Maximum rate for those who have a higher income = $3,377.10/month[5]

4. In addition, there will be some charges not included in the co-payment rate. Ask the homes you are interested in applying to for the list of supplies and items you will be responsible to pay for.

It is difficult to locate sources for details of the costs in private-pay residential care homes (private nursing homes) however, I was able to find one based on 2018 reported rates. The median rate in BC for room, board and basic care in a private room in 2018 was $6,011.25/month (the median rate was higher in Vancouver at $6,114.08/month and Victoria at $6,206.00/month). The range was from $2,275.00/month to $9,900.00/month depending on the location and other factors[6].


[2] For information on the different options for long-term care in BC visit www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2013/

[4] The comfort allowance is set at $325.00/month so, the minimum rate is meant to ensure that most people have at least that amount left for incidentals after paying the cost of room and board in a residential care home.

[5] Note: rates are subject to change and should be verified with your local Health Authority.

[6] Information obtained from: www.sunlife.ca/slfas/Health/Long+term+care+insurance/Long+Term+Care+in+British+Columbia+2018?vgnLocale=en_CA (July 2019).

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59 other articles by Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW