Accessing Long-term Care
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Find out how to access long-term care

The first step to entering a publicly subsidized long-term care home is to have a health care needs assessment completed.

How do I access long-term care if I am living at home?

You can access this service by contacting your local Home and Community Care Office where a Care Manager will determine your needs and eligibility. Priority is always given to those with the highest need and at the greatest risk.

How long does it take to access a care home?

The search for a long-term care home that best meets your needs start as soon as the Care Manager completes your assessment. 

You will be asked to choose up to three preferred care homes in your community or other communities in British Columbia where you would like to live.  If you are at increased risk, you will also be offered to be on an interim care home waiting list.  This may facilitate accessing a care home as soon as possible to ensure your needs are met, and improve your safety. You will be able to wait at the interim care home for one of the preferred sites you have identified.

While you are waiting for a care home vacancy, your care manager will monitor your status to ensure your choices will still meet your needs. 

How should I prepare to move into a long-term care home?

B.C.’s long-term care access policy ensures people who are at intolerable risk in the community will be offered a vacancy at a long-term care home with high priority. If you are not at intolerable risk, you will have to wait to be offered a vacancy at your preferred site(s) based on your access (wait list) date. Once a vacancy has been offered, you will be expected to move with very short notice – within 48 hours – to a preferred care home or within 72 hours to an interim care home.

IH has the following suggestions to help you transition more smoothly to your new home:

  • Contact the long-term care homes you have chosen as your preferences and request a copy of their handbook. It offers helpful tips and suggestions about what to bring with you
  • Make a plan to have friends and family ready to assist you with your move
  • Pack a bag with some essentials so you can relocate quickly
  • Visit the Preparing to Move page for more information 

What if I want to change care homes?

If you move to an interim care home, you will wait there to be offered vacancy at one of the sites you identified as a preference. When a vacancy becomes available at one of your preferred locations, you will have the choice of accepting or declining it, or remaining where you are.

How do I access long-term care after a hospital stay?

If you are assessed as needing long-term care following a stay in the hospital, your Care Manager will assist you to return home with appropriate care and services in place and assess your needs while you are at home to start the access process. 

If you are not able to return home due to your care needs, you may also move into a private pay long-term care home while awaiting an interim or preferred publicly subsidized long-term care home. 

If you move to one of your preferred care homes, but find you don’t like living there, you can contact the Access Coordinator to request a transfer to a new home.  The date you request this change will become your new access (wait list) date.

How do I access private pay long-term care?

Private pay long-term care services are paid for by the individual and not funded by Interior Health or the province. An assessment by Interior Health staff is not needed for admission to a private pay facility. Depending on individual circumstances, private pay long-term care may be the right option for either temporary or permanent care. 

There are many private pay long-term care homes to choose from, each offering a variety of services and features. Some sites have both publicly subsidized and private pay rooms. For additional listing and information contact the BC Providers Association.

It is important to know that choosing to pay privately on a temporary basis does not guarantee you will be transferred to a subsidized vacancy at the same site. 

Approximate care costs, overall affordability and the type of care required should be carefully considered when choosing a private pay long-term care home. It is best to contact these sites directly for detailed information about availability, costs and services.


MoH     PCQO