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Supportive Living and Regulation in Alberta

Province: AB

Alberta is one of the provinces in Canada that has legislation to protect seniors who reside in retirement-type settings which are grouped under the category of ‘Supportive Living Facilities’. Accommodation standards have been in place since 2007 and are maintained and enforced through Alberta Health Services. Alberta has both public and private supportive living settings which are impacted by these standards.

What is the definition of Supportive Living in Alberta? - Supportive living is a housing/residential setting that encourages and supports independence with the provision of accommodation, care & support as required. While many residences under this definition are specifically for seniors, supportive living as a licenced level of care is broad enough to extend beyond seniors; younger people who have a mental of physical disability and require some support can also reside in a supportive living residence (which may be a group home or a designated supportive living[1] setting that is not a seniors’ home) that is governed by the same legislation. Usually the environment also contains amenities that offer safety and security while meeting the needs of the residents. There are limits to this kind of care; facilities providing services for those with complex needs fall into a different category and, as such, must abide by a different set of regulations. Generally, supportive living residences offer “health and wellness” as well as “hospitality” services which encompass things such as meals, housekeeping, laundry, social and recreational services, etc. For further details on what supportive living entails you can download the Supportive Living Guide at https://open.alberta.ca/publications/9780778584100.

The Supportive Living Accommodation Licensing Act governs all settings with 4 or more permanent residents who receive “services related to safety and security [at least once a day]…and…at least one meal a day or housekeeping services”. In addition to the provincial standards set out under this legislation (which cover things like meal provision, housekeeping, maintenance, safety and security), residences are also expected to follow several other regulations administered by their municipalities as well as other applicable provincial and federal standards related to the health and safety of their residents and proper business practices. The provincial government sets the standards for supportive living residences, monitors compliance and does annual inspections of licenced homes.[2]. For information on complaints and compliance with standards of supportive living residences in Alberta visit http://standardsandlicensing.alberta.ca. For further information on standards governing all supportive living in the province and what they encompass you can visit https://www.alberta.ca/about-continuing-care.aspx#toc-6.

Each residence determines who is eligible, what accommodations and services/service packages they wish to offer, and the related costs for both. The Home Care Program administered by Alberta Health Services does provide some health and personal care services for residents of many supportive living homes. And, while many senior-specific residences are private pay, for those with a low/moderate income, there is provincial legislation that governs ‘Seniors Lodges’[3] which caps the maximum accommodation fee they can be charged so that they have money left for personal expenses; they are entitled to a minimum of $322.00/month[4] for incidentals from their monthly income/pension. There are also “affordable supportive living spaces that were funded in part with capital grant dollars from the province”, and as such, cannot charge a resident more than what it costs for a private room in a provincial long-term care home. For information on the costs in a designated supportive living setting, visit www.alberta.ca/continuing-care-accommodation-charges.aspx.



[1] A Designated Supportive Living (DSL) residence has an agreement with Alberta Health Services (AHS) whereby AHS controls the access to a specific number of the spaces in their setting. DSL offers 24-hour on-site support and personal care (from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/9780778584100) (July 2019).

[2]Information for this section has been obtained and quoted from: : https://open.alberta.ca/publications/9780778584100) (July 2019).

[3] A Seniors Lodge is supportive living that offers room and board to independent seniors who may or may not need community support services and is operated under the Alberta Housing Act (from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/9780778584100) (July 2019).

[4] This rate is effective January 1, 2019. This amount is indexed annually. From : www.alberta.ca/affordable-housing-programs.aspx.

Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW

connect@seniorcareaccess.com

 

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