Legal Ease: ‘Private residence’ and ‘personal services’ clearly defined in law

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A “private residence for seniors” is defined in the Quebec Health and Social Services Act as all or part of a building inhabited mainly by people 65 and over. In addition to providing space, at least two of the following services must be offered: meals, nursing, personal assistance, domestic help, leisure activities and special security.

Personal services are defined by regulation as personal hygiene, eating aid, mobility aid, transfer aid and distribution of medications. The cost of these services may be included in the rent or paid in another manner.

Before it can operate legally, the residence must obtain a temporary certificate of compliance, which is valid for one year and not renewable, and a permanent certificate of compliance, which remains valid for three years and is renewable. This certificate is issued by a health and social service agency for the area in which the residence is located. No one should contract with or enter a private residence without verifying that it has obtained the necessary certificate of compliance. It is the responsibility of any professional to carry out such verification before referring anyone to a residence.

To qualify for a certificate of compliance, a residence must meet certain health and social criteria set out by the government as a series of conditions. The first one states that the resident and his close relatives “must be treated with courtesy, fairness and understanding and with respect for their dignity, autonomy and needs.” A person considering living in a residence or his close relative or representative must be given a written statement containing “in clear and simple terms,” among other things, what services are offered and their cost, the complaint procedure and the code of conduct that applies to staff and residents.

Another noteworthy provision states that the operator of the residence may not resort to force, isolation, mechanical means or a chemical substance to control a resident’s behaviour. Such means can only be used exceptionally and temporarily in case of an emergency where it is necessary to protect someone, but in no case can a chemical substance be used. In cases of emergency where forbidden control measures were used, a report must be made to the relevant health and social services agency.

Another condition pertains to the meals provided to residents, which must offer varied menus that conform to Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. A further requirement is that every resident whose health, life or integrity is in danger must receive the care and services required by his condition. There must also be a call-for-help system available to each resident adapted to his specific needs.

At least one employee of the age of majority with up-to-date training by a certified specialist in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, standard first aid and moving patients safely must always be present in the residence.

There are many other provisions relating to residents’ personal information, safety, housekeeping, emergency intervention, first aid, equipment maintenance, fire safety, emergency phone numbers, administration of medication, general health and safety of residents and liability insurance. When the residence does not meet the above requirements at the end of the one-year period, a permanent certificate of compliance will be refused.

It is the responsibility of the Health and Social Services Agency for the area in which the residence is located to inspect each residence to ensure that the regulations are followed and that there are no situations or practices that could pose a threat to the residents. Where corrective measures are necessary, the owner of the residence must comply with the order of the agency or forfeit its certification.

Private seniors’ residences are businesses and are run as such. Their interests and those of the residents may not always coincide. When their actions threaten the wellbeing of their residents or cause them damage, the law provides recourse through the complaint procedure, the Human Rights Commission or the civil courts. Unfortunately, these procedures can be extremely expensive and stressful and consequently often remain unused.

Mine the knowledge of our columnists

The Senior Times will host an information session with columnists
Bonnie Sandler, Joyce Blond Frank and Deborah Leahy on October 4 from 1 to 3 pm at the offices of the newspaper, 4077 Décarie.
Those who wish to meet with them should make an appointment by calling 514-484-5033 or emailing with Consultation in the subject. Individual, 15-minute consultations will be provided.

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