The limestone city, located at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, is one of Canada’s most established settlements, and has solidified its reputation as a great retirement city. Kingston’s diverse 55+ community, which makes up approximately 30 percent of the population, has excellent access to health care and senior services, as well as a host of opportunities for recreation and a number of excellent retirement homes. With social activities and care options to fit the unique needs of all types of seniors, it’s no wonder Eastern Ontario’s largest city was voted MoneySense magazine’s best Canadian city to retire in 2014.
Seniors and their families will find much of the spectrum of care (see image below) available to them in Kingston. The region’s retirement homes offer living options ranging from independent living to long-term care. Most of Kingston’s retirement communities are located near the waterfront or nestled in the city’s suburbs. These residences serve seniors and families throughout the greater metropolitan area of Kingston, including Amhers/tview and South Frontnac.
Most of Kingston’s retirement homes embrace the idea of aging in place and offer residents a continuum of care that includes both independent and assisted living. Seniors living in these communities can remain as independent as they like, and customize their care to include meal plans, housekeeping and personal care. Active seniors often take advantage of this type of retirement living for the added safety and amenities, while those who require assistance choose these communities for their ability to make aging more comfortable. The greatest advantage of living in a community that grows with the needs of its residents is that seniors can avoid the stress of moving and remain in their new home with friends and familiar staff as their situation changes.
Long term care homes are designed to provide more comprehensive care to seniors who cannot live independently and suffer from more serious illnesses or cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Seniors in long-term care can receive special therapies, memory care, and 24 hour nursing administered by personal support workers and health care professionals.
The average cost of a retirement home in Ontario is approximately $3,200 a month. However, the cost of retirement living in Kingston will vary with the lifestyle and assistance you choose. Additional costs can come from meal plans, foot care, additional personal care and medication assistance. Fortunately, retirement homes can help interested seniors and their families plan ahead and customize their care and living options to fit their health needs and financial situation. Long-term care homes, which are funded by the government of Ontario, have their rates for basic accommodation set by the Province. Your local Community Care Access Centre can help you and your loved one(s) find placement in a long-term care home near you, and provide more detailed cost information. Some residents of long-term care homes living in basic accommodations and who have an annual income below $21, 000 may also be eligible for a rate reduction. The Ontario government can also provide assistance when it comes to home care costs or prescription expenses. Seniors with high prescription drug costs relative to their income may benefit from applying to the Trillium Drug Program. Seniors over the age of 65 who live in Ontario and have a valid Ontario health card are eligible for application.
Kingston has an excellent network of health and safety services, and more doctors per 1000 than almost any other city in the country. Kingston has more than 3 times the national average of doctors (1.3 physicians per 1000), at 4.4 doctors per 1000. According to the Queen’s University Faculty of Medicine, 8.2 percent of the city’s population is made up of health care practitioners. The city has two hospitals, several public health organizations and a variety of wellness clinics, from spas and massage therapy centres to chiropractic care, acupuncture and physiotherapy clinics. The Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital offer primary care as well as emergency and specialized services. Kingston, Lennox, Frontenac, and Addington Public Health (KFL&A) also serves to promote the health of communities in and around Kingston through awareness, connecting people to health resources and providing health services. For a full list of programs and services, see the KFL&A Public Health website. The South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), which operates through offices (one of which is located in Kingston) as well as in hospitals and family health teams, is mandated to provide community health services, home placement co-ordination and information and referral services. Your LHIN can help you or your loved one(s) age in place or help you find the right retirement care for you. Well-run retirement homes make their residents’ health their responsibility, and as such, make a concentrated effort to help residents get the health care they need. When they cannot provide a service, residences refer seniors to the most appropriate resources around them. However, most of today’s retirement homes no longer need to outsource the majority of their health care, and employ personal support workers, doctors, and registered nurses. Some communities provide shuttles to medical appointments, while others give residents the option of making the visiting doctor their family doctor. Some of the health care services retirement homes provide include:
In the interest of providing holistic health care, most residences also employ chefs and dieticians to ensure that the meals served are both healthy and delicious. Residents can also have their meals tailored to health and faith needs, and can often make special requests for snacks during the day or before bed to regulate blood sugar and make it easier to fall asleep. Senior safety is a priority for retirement communities from independent living through long-term care. All of Kingston’s residences have emergency call services installed or provide residents with safety pendants which can be worn at all times and used to call staff in case of an emergency. Additional safety measures include three-piece bathrooms, no-slip floors and night lighting. Communities that house patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia also offer secure floors and overnight monitoring to ensure resident safety. Senior health is of course not limited to medical and physical concerns, but include social, emotional and mental health. The staff of retirement homes do their best to make each resident feel comfortable and at home, and activity co-ordinators are responsible for organizing social activities and excursions year-round (read more about the social aspect of retirement homes in the next section). However, seniors can also find peer support elsewhere in Kingston. The LGBTQ senior community can find support groups and social events at several different locations and organizations around Kingston. Grieving seniors can turn to the Bereaved Families of Ontario, who organize monthly share and support groups and one-on-one peer facilitation. Families with relatives and friends suffering from Alzheimer’s can also receive support from the Alzheimer’s society of Kingston. A number of private home maintenance, meal delivery, companionship and personal care services are available in Kingston to seniors living at home and their caregivers. Most retirement homes in the area also offer short-term stays and overnight respite based on availability.
Kingston’s 55+ residents can find opportunities to stay active and connect with other seniors all over the city. Between programs offered by local libraries, events at the Kingston seniors centre, and the many different fitness activities run by the city, seniors never have far to go for recreation. In fact, those living in retirement homes needn’t look farther than their own homes. Modern retirement homes make resident wellness their first priority and encourage their residents to stay active, creative and connected, and help them take advantage of fitness, arts and culture, and continued learning programs and events throughout the community. However, recreational facilities as well as social activities are also offered within retirement residences. Many retirement communities employ an activity coordinator, whose responsibilities include organizing activities and events within their residences and planning day-trips.
Some of the activities and events that can be found in Kingston’s retirement homes include:
The city of Kingston was founded in 1673, and has a rich heritage and beautiful historical architecture, as well as a thriving contemporary arts scene. The city is known as the museum capital of Canada, with 20 different museums and heritage sites, including the Rideau Canal. Kingston was also the site of the first artist-run art gallery (still open today) and boasts numerous art galleries, art shows and studio tours, as well as two theatres – the new 5,700 seat K-Rock theatre in the downtown area and the recently renovated historic Grand Theatre. Retirement homes often organize outings and excursions to visit the city’s attractions. Residents can tour museums or historic parts of the city, go out to the theatre, or even just participate in a shopping trip to Kingston’s Cataraqui Shopping Centre.
Some retirement homes even have their own putting greens, but seniors can also explore the many golf courses the city has to offer on their own. After all, Kingston has the most golf courses per capita in the country! The city’s two wellness centres are great places for seniors to get physically active as well. One or both centres offer badminton, aquafit, lane swims, cardio and strength training and cardio rehab, as well as seniors swims (65+) and adult skates (18+). The “Walk On” program, also run by the city, has volunteers lead seniors on walks around the community, allowing seniors to stay safe while getting out and active. In order to keep mentally active and continue learning as a senior, older adults can turn to the Kingston library network, which runs book clubs (with a difference!) and tech tutoring sessions. Kingston’s seniors association (KSA), with more than 5000 members, is one of the largest organizations of its kind. The association organizes day trips for its members, as well as year-round events, including craft sales, brunches, health clinics for hearing and arthritis, card games and movies, consultations on woodworking and technology and seminars on topics such as driving and online shopping safety. Members of the association also often become volunteers and help to put together events, outings and VISTA, the KSA’s monthly publication. A monthly subscription to VISTA (which provides information about upcoming events, classes and excursions) is included in the yearly membership fee. A single membership is $35 dollars a year, but household memberships and multi-year memberships are also available for a reduced price.
Active seniors can get around Kingston via bike or on foot, as basic amenities and shopping are near all of the area’s retirement homes and residential areas. Kingston also offers several different transit options. The region’s route transit, Kingston Transit, provides conventional transit all year-round, with the exception of civic holidays. The Kingston Access Bus is run by Kingston Access Services (KAS), a non-profit organization funded by the city. The bus provides those with disabilities with reliable accessible door to accessible door transit. Seniors with disabilities and mobility challenges can register for this service and must pay a fare of $2.75 each way. A maximum of one support person can ride free. The KAS has also been providing non-emergency patient transportation aboard the Kingston Area Patient Shuttle since 1999. This transportation is intended to serve those who require wheel chairs or stretchers and can be used for trips between health care centres such as hospitals and retirement homes.
Ontario’s retirement homes are well regulated, safe and welcoming. Unfortunately this also renders vacancy rates relatively low. Over the last few years, the vacancy rate has dropped to about 13-14 percent. Due to low vacancy rates, you or your loved one may have to spend time on a wait-list before being accepted.
Certain factors will inform the length of wait times:
Seniors struggling financially can also apply for rent geared to income housing in the Kingston area. Unfortunately, the wait times for subsidized housing are generally rather long.
Before you begin you begin your search for a retirement community, it is important to define your wants and needs and get your finances in order. Some families wait until a time of crisis before they consider a retirement home and begin the process. This can only add to stress and conflict in a difficult time. Whether you have been looking forward to retirement living or have not given it much thought, it is important to consider all your options. There are many questions you should ask yourself and your loved ones before you start your search. Where do you want to live? Who will you need to be close to? How many meals a day would you like to be served? What health services do you require? The most important four aspects to think about are the following:
Use our retirement calculator to get a better idea of the kind of care you will be able to afford. You can also visit our page for seniors considering a retirement home for more questions to consider and the answers to think about. When you’ve answered the above questions, its time to start making a shortlist of retirement homes that meet your criteria and begin touring. Remember to ask questions during your tour. If you are unsure what to ask, download our free e-book on the ultimate retirement tour guide. Finding the right retirement home requires pre-planning, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Read our advice guide on choosing a retirement home for a more comprehensive guide to making a decision, or start your search today by using our advanced search or contacting the residences in Kingston and area shown above.
Ontario retirement homes are subject to regulations set by the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority. Homes must undergo ongoing inspections and maintain a high standard of safety and cleanliness in order to receive approval from the RHRA and remain operational. In order to ensure you or your loved one(s) will stay safe and be properly cared for, always make sure to check that the community you are considering is licensed by the RHRA. In addition to accreditations and the regulations set by the RHRA, the Long-Term Care Homes Act of 2007 governs all long-term care homes in Ontario. The act requires residences to provide safe, consistent and high-quality resident-centred care and makes sure residents feel at home, are treated with dignity and respect, and have the health care services they need available to them. Accreditation is also a sign that a retirement community will be safe and well-managed. Industry experts recommend looking for a retirement community that is a member of one or more of the following trusted associations: