How to Open a Senior Care Business in Canada

By 2030, one quarter of the Canadian population will be seniors. While this monumental shift in demographics represents a lot of challenges for society, it also brings with it many opportunities, including an increased demand for services like residential senior homes, day programs, rehabilitation care services and hospice services. Working in senior care requires patience, compassion and, often, physical endurance. In Canada, it's also a highly-regulated field.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

In Canada, senior care services are regulated by federal, provincial and municipal laws.

How to Get Into Senior Care in Canada

Like most other businesses, there are three ways to get started in senior care. You can start a business from scratch, buy an existing business that is for sale or buy a franchise. Franchise opportunities are booming. Some of the available franchises in Canada include:

  • BrightStar Care: provides home care services to seniors and families, as well as offering other services like insurance assessments and flu clinic services to the private sector. 

  • ComForCare Home Care: provides nursing in-home care and non-medical care primarily to clients over the age of 65.

  • Comfort Keepers: provides in-home care to seniors. 

  • Downsizing Diva: provides assistance to seniors making the transition from their own home to a smaller home or senior residence.

  • Driving Miss Daisy: provides transportation and companionship services to seniors and those with disabilities.

  • GEM Health Care Services: provides private healthcare and homecare services to seniors.

  • Heart To Home Meals: delivers nutritious meals to seniors in their homes.

  • Home Instead Senior Care: provides home care services to seniors.

  • Just Like Family Home Care: provides home care services to seniors.

  • Living Assistance Services: provides home care services to seniors.

  • Move Seniors Lovingly: offers moving transition services to seniors and their families. 

  • Nurse Next Door Home Care Services: provides nursing services to seniors in their homes.

Before deciding on what type of care service you will offer, it's vital that you research what is currently available in your area first, and investigate what services are already in the works. Talking to your city or county councilor would be a good first step to determine which services may be most needed and whether or not there could be government financing available to help you get started, such as grants or government-backed loans.

Understanding the Senior Care Industry

In Canada, like most other industrialized countries, senior care is highly regulated. The federal and provincial governments have resources to help you determine what is required in your province and municipality. In Ontario, for example, you will need a license from the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA). Long-term care homes require annual inspections from the Long-term Care Home Quality Inspection Program (LQIP) which is run by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

In addition to these requirements, you will also have to research your provincial landlord-tenant laws if you are going to open a senior home. If you are offering medical services, you need to understand the laws on personal information and medical information confidentiality. Additional information on resources and requirements in senior care can also be obtained from:

  • CMHC: Managing Affordable Housing
  • Canadian Institute for Health Information
  • Public Health Agency of Canada: Aging and Seniors
  • Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority
  • Canadian Red Cross: Health Equipment Loan Program 

Other Business Requirements Specific to Senior Care

Just about anyone can open a hardware store or start a landscaping business, even if they have no previous experience with tools, lawns or gardens. This isn't the case when it comes to caring for people. If you don't have a degree or a background in healthcare, you should consider bringing in someone who does as soon as possible, either as a business partner, a member of your corporate board or as an employee or consultant.

If you are offering food services, a nutritionist or dietician would be an important person to have on your team. You will also need business insurance, liability insurance and a good lawyer, preferably one who is familiar with the healthcare or homecare industries.

Finally, because you will need staff to help care for your clients, you will also need to understand the laws and regulations pertaining to human resources and workplace safety. Screening your employees before hiring them is also a requirement, including criminal record checks. Depending on your specific business, you may need specific training for your staff in CPR, first aid, palliative care, medication management or dementia care, or you may need to have licensed doctors, nurses and personal support workers on your staff.