July 11, 2017  — 

A new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) looked at a sample of Canadian seniors and found that more than 20% of those who were admitted to residential care might have been able to remain at home with appropriate supports.

Seniors in Transition: Exploring Pathways Across the Care Continuum studied more than 59,000 seniors in 35 health regions over a 3-year period whose care needs were assessed by health care professionals.

Factors that influenced admission to residential care (also known as long-term care) included

  • The need for physical assistance
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Wandering behaviours
  • Living alone
  • Having a caregiver who is unable to continue providing care

The findings also showed that seniors assessed in hospital were significantly more likely to be admitted to residential care than those assessed in the community. Residential care is typically the most intensive and expensive service in the continuing care sector, as it provides care to people with the most complex needs.

Growth in Canada’s seniors population has been steady for the past 20 years. Within the next 20 years, however, the population of older seniors (those age 75 and older) — who rely more heavily on continuing care services — is expected to double, from 2.6 million to 5.7 million.

To help people understand the populations served by home care and residential care in selected health regions, CIHI developed an interactive online tool that allows users to observe characteristics of seniors populations over time and across care settings, at the health region level. 


“Over the next 20 years, the seniors population is expected to grow at an unprecedented rate. To improve the sustainability of long-term care in Canada and support seniors who want to remain in the community as long and as independently as possible, we need to better understand how resources are currently used. The numbers show that we can do more to ensure our seniors get the care that best matches their needs.”

— Georgina MacDonald, Vice President, Western Canada, Canadian Institute for Health Information

This new report supports CIHI’s commitment to help stakeholders better understand Canada’s seniors population, as outlined in CIHI’s strategic plan. CIHI is focusing its efforts on influencing and improving Canada’s health systems, guided by key themes and key populations that our stakeholders told us were important. 

About CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential information on Canada’s health systems and the health of Canadians.

We provide comparable and actionable data and information that are used to accelerate improvements in health care, health system performance and population health across Canada. Our stakeholders use our broad range of health system databases, measurements and standards, together with our evidence-based reports and analyses, in their decision-making processes. We protect the privacy of Canadians by ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the health care information we provide.

Media contact


Riley Denver