Seniors are one of the fastest growing population groups in Canada and the demand for senior care services is rising.
Examples of services that may be provided to seniors are:
The most common types of personal care facilities for seniors include:
When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:
Our business start-up guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.
Business Start-Up Guide
Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use BizPaL—an online search tool—to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact the Business Info Line to speak to someone about starting your business.
Permits and Licences Wizard
Contact the Business Info Line:
Licences, permits and regulations that apply to starting a senior care facility include:
In Ontario, you must register your seniors' personal care business with the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA), and make sure that you comply with their rules and requirements.
Contact the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority:
Retirement Homes - Licensing
Your business will be inspected annually to ensure that you are following the standards for senior services in Ontario. Find out more about the Long-term Care Home Quality Inspection Program (LQIP) from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.
Contact the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care:
Ensure that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, including rent increase guidelines.
Contact the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing:
Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
If you gather personal information from your clients, make sure that you are following the rules of collection, use and disclosure of personal information in Canada:
Contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:
A Guide for Businesses and Organizations Your Privacy Responsibilities
In Ontario, when you gather health information from your residents and clients, make sure that you follow the rules of collection, use and disclosure of that information.
Contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario:
1-800-387-0073 (within Ontario)
A Guide to the Personal Health Information Protection Act
If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer who deals with business regulations. The Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer, based on your needs.
Contact the Law Society of Upper Canada:
Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service
Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.
If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12 month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.
Canada Revenue Agency – Business
Canada Business can help you find government financing options for your business. There are programs that apply to businesses across Canada, and others that apply only to businesses in Ontario. Use the Canada Business financing search tool or browse by type of financing.
You can also access Canada Business information through the ONe-Source online financing wizard. The wizard guides you through 3 easy steps to create a personalized list of results for Ontario business financing programs.
Contact the Business Info Line:
You can find Ontario-specific assistance for your business including advice, financing options, tax incentive programs and more using the Ontario government’s free online directory of support programs for business.
The OBPG provides:
Ontario Business Program Guide
The success of any business starts by setting goals and managing the ups and downs of daily operations. Here are some key factors to consider when starting a senior care business.
Having the correct business insurance can provide peace of mind. Contact an insurance agent to discuss your business insurance options, or to develop a plan that is right for your business.
You may also wish to contact your local chamber of commerce or industry association, as some organizations offer members lower rates on their business insurance.
The following list is included to remind you not to overlook the complex areas of business insurance. It is best, however, to discuss your specific requirements with your insurance agent.
Insurance for Your Small Business
Marketing can help you determine the value of your product or service and communicate that information to customers. Depending on your market and its size, you can consider using flyers, business cards, brochures, newspapers, radio, TV, the phone book or the Internet. Keep in mind, a satisfied customer or a positive referral is often the best form of advertising.
When preparing your marketing and/or advertising material, there are regulations to follow. When you promote a product or service, your customers need to have enough information to make informed choices. You can get more information on advertising requirements from the Competition Bureau.
Contact the Competition Bureau:
Misleading Advertising and Labelling
The use of business support services can be essential to the success of a small business. Professionals can provide knowledge and expertise to ensure your business is operating efficiently.
As an entrepreneur, there are several types of professional business services you can consult:
Additional services that you may need as the owner of a senior care facility include:
Your employees must be properly trained to work with seniors, and it is your responsibility to provide training and resource materials. The Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance both offer courses that may be useful to you and your employees.
Examples of training for employees who provide care to seniors are:
For most businesses, choosing an appropriate location is critical. Your ideal location will depend on your business needs, zoning restrictions and where your customers and competitors are. Taxes, noise and the local business environment are also important factors to consider when reviewing your options.
If you are considering setting up your business in your home, make sure you know what regulations and restrictions will apply to your home-based business before you start.
Choose a layout that is appropriate for your clients as well as for your employees. Convenience and security are just two issues to consider when operating a senior care home.
To be suitable as a facility for seniors, a location may need:
Senior care facilities require special equipment that can accommodate clients with limited mobility or special needs. Some examples of the kinds of special equipment that you will likely need include:
You can purchase this equipment or it may also be available on loan from the Canadian Red Cross through their Health Equipment Loan Program.
Contact the Canadian Red Cross:
HELP (Ontario region)
A good first aid kit is necessary. Ask a doctor or a nurse about first aid and verify with the St. John Ambulance in your area about what supplies you need.
Contact St John Ambulance:
You may want to consult a dietician to help you prepare a list of meals for your clients, based on their specific needs or their doctor’s recommendations.
Contact the Dieticians of Canada:
Dietitians of Canada
You should keep records that will help you manage and keep track of the people under your care.
Common types of client information that you may record includes:
You may also want to provide a book to each of your employees so they can record appropriate client comments at the end of their shift.
Remember, any personal information is subject to privacy regulations and it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet the requirements.
Privacy and your Business
It is your responsibility to ensure that your employees know all the procedures in case of emergency. Create an emergency plan for your business and be aware of who to contact in different situations (for example, poison control, 9-1-1, fire department).
Contact Public Safety Canada:
A Guide to Business Continuity Planning
There are many associations that may be of interest to you. It is not necessary to join an association, but some of the advantages include:
Examples of associations for a senior care business include:
As an ORCA member, you can network with other professionals, access training and benefit from advocacy resources. Members also receive discounted rates for events and advertising.
Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA)
Take advantage of advocacy services and learn about best practices for end-of-life/hospice palliative care in Canada.
Contact the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association:
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association
Access networking and education opportunities for home care providers in Ontario.
Contact the Ontario Home Care Association:
Ontario Home Care Association
For other information that relates to starting your business, you can read the following guides:
Additional resources that may be of interest to you include:
You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us through the Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888.
Information contained in this document is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute advice for any specific situation. Users concerned about the reliability of the information should consult directly with the source, or seek legal counsel.
Some of the organizations listed above are not subject to the federal Official Languages Act or the French Language Services Act of Ontario. Their services may not be available in both official languages.