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Sector Spotlight: Senior Care

The senior care sector in Canada is a rapidly growing industry. We look at some of the options available to buyers.

Seniors are the fastest-growing population group in Canada. So it goes without saying, the demand for senior care services is also rising fast, making It one of the most popular investments today.

An aging population

By July of last year, the number of people over the age of 65 in Canada had overtaken those under the age of 15, according to Statistics Canada: 5,780,900 compared to 5,749,400.

The senior population is growing at a faster rate than other demographic groups too, with a growth rate four times faster than that of the general population – at 3.5% a year.

According to CBC News, “Canada has met a milestone that demographers have seen coming for a long time.”

Investment options

In the past, seniors who lacked mobility and self-sufficiency tended to end up in nursing homes.

However, seniors today have a wider variety of options:

Retirement homes – These are often privately-owned accommodation for seniors who can pay for their own care. Clients in retirement homes generally don’t need much support with daily living.

Long-term care homes – These are designed for people who require 24-hour care and supervision in a secure environment.

Day careAdult day care providers can be either small and usually individually owned businesses, or larger, corporate-owned enterprises with a wider variety of services.

There are two types of day care centers: medical and social.

Informal, ‘social’ day cares are more common, catering to seniors who are comparatively high functioning. However, the needs of your clients will always vary. In a social day care, the focus is on socialising, activities and meal times.

Medical day care facilities provide more complex care and have registered nurses on site who can administer medication and oxygen.

Home care – Seniors understandably want to stay in their houses, feeling like they are giving up their freedom by going to a retirement home. However, to do that many will require assistance with daily living activities.

Seniors and their relatives are increasingly looking for alternatives to nursing homes. For most, the best option is home care, where a professional carer visits the home to provide personalized care and support them to live independently.

The services provided can vary depending on a person’s needs, from preparing meals and doing laundry to simply being a companion and providing conversation.

Depending on the level of care required, a medical professional may be needed to administer medications and therapies.

Skills and requirements

Alongside managerial and entrepreneurial skills, running a senior care business has a set of specific requirements:

You have to be a people person – You will be interacting with clients and their families on a daily basis, so it is essential that you have good communication and interpersonal skills.

Compassion – You need to show understanding and provide support and encouragement to those whose capabilities may be fading.

You will also need to be a good listener and be open to talking frankly to families about the best course of action in a given situation.

Working in senior care may also mean being in positions that are upsetting or distressing. In times like these it is very important to handle your emotions. 

Patience – You have to take into account the client’s medical and lifestyle needs, and there may be good days and bad days.

While many of your clients will be relatively able-bodied, others will suffer from a multitude of ailments and varying degrees of dementia and this may be frustrating for them.

Integrity and honesty – You may be trusted with access to vulnerable people’s bank details and homes.

Versatility – Providing services for seniors requires flexibility – to deal with the unexpected or multiple things at once.

Reliable – Your clients may rely on you or your staff to transport them – so you must be punctual and stick to appointments.

Knowledge – in health products, accessibility, assistive devices, the preparation of food and planning for emergencies.

Hiring staff

Employee screening is particularly important in the healthcare sector in order to protect your clients and business from harm. This involves criminal record and vulnerable sector checks.

You will also need to arrange staff training in first aid, CPR, medication management, dementia care and palliative care.

You may need to employ the services of healthcare professionals such as nurses, doctors and care support workers.

Licences and permits

Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government. Requirements include:

Registration – This depends on the province. In Ontario, for example, you have to register with the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) and comply with its rules and regulations.

Health Inspections – Like any care business, your premises will be subject to regular health inspections.

Personal information protection – If you gather personal information from your clients you have to rigorously follow the rules of collection, use and disclosure of information.

And finally: you may have the relevant people skills to care for the elderly, but you will also need the wider, practical knowledge about how to buy a business to get yourself on the road to success. 

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.