When it comes to Seniors Housing Terminology
Seniors housing terminology needs to be clarified, reduced, and simplified. ASCHA surveyed over 1,000 Albertans to better understand the difficulties they experience in navigating their seniors housing options, and the continuing care system. One of the major issues brought to light by the research was that seniors housing terminology is complicated, difficult to understand, and overwhelming – even the sector itself and different levels of government have a hard time speaking consistently about the options.

ASCHA heard our members’ and stakeholders’ feedback on some of the difficulties, but hearing first-hand from Albertans created urgency to provide easier-to-understand navigational terms.

This study highlighted the need to stop and reflect on the issues Albertan's face in seeking seniors housing and supports. If the terminology isn’t even clear, within the sector, then how can Albertans know what to search for and what questions to ask?

Read Our "What We Heard" Report
This report details our initial findings on how difficult seniors housing options and terminology is to navigate. This was part of ASCHA’s larger #CutTheClutter Campaign, which served to “cut the clutter” on complex terminology the sector, government, seniors-serving agencies, and the health system uses to talk about seniors housing and continuing care options. The report revealed that terminology is used inconsistently and is not overly helpful in describing the services and levels of care available in various environments - Download the "What We Heard" Report Here

Focus Groups and Consultation with Albertans

ASCHA held a series of focus groups and had ongoing consultation with Albertans through in-person meetings, online discussions on social media, and phone conversations. Solutions and suggestions were offered by Albertans and taken to sector representatives, stakeholders, and the government for consideration.

All participants in the 2019 focus groups agreed that language in the sector needs to be simplified, and rather than creating additional terminology, a system needs to be created to clarify and streamline existing language to make it easier to navigate and understand.

Common Terminology Final Report
After extensive consultations with various seniors serving organizations/agencies, stakeholders, and subject-matter experts about how to simplify the way we describe seniors housing options in Alberta, three distinct categories were developed and tested for public feedback.

The intent of the proposed categories was to group together seniors housing types, and rather than using unique terms for each individual option or housing program, allowing for synonyms and the diverse ways people term options to still exist but be better categorized.

The following report details the findings from this study: Download the Common Terminology Report Here

Albertans helped identify the three navigational categories the sector will begin using to describe seniors housing in Alberta

Seniors Housing Accommodation Only – This category is inclusive of seniors housing settings that are strictly accommodation without any services or supports on site. Terms such as “seniors’ apartments,” and “independent living” would fall into this category, as well as the government program “Seniors Self-Contained.” If a resident/tenant required any services (such as homecare, housekeeping, meal delivery, etc.), they would need to arrange it themselves. 

Seniors Housing with Service Options - This category is more commonly understood as “seniors supportive living” in Alberta. This is where there are services onsite such as meals, housekeeping, recreational activities, and laundry.  Seniors housing with service options are licensed under the Accommodations Standards - Supportive Living Accommodation (AS - SLA). Service options might be included in one’s rent, or could be a separate pay option, depending on the site. If a resident/tenant required any health supports (such as homecare, etc.), they would need to arrange it themselves. 

Seniors Housing with Service Options and Health Supports - This category is the largest of the three in terms of the variety of options available. This is where some form of health supports are provided onsite, like 24/7 health care aides, LPNs or RNs, for higher levels of health supports. “Continuing Care Home Type B” and “Memory Care” would fall under this category. Categories of service options and health supports depend on the needs of the resident and the type of housing provider.