When you start looking for an independent living or assisted living community, chances are you've never even thought about it before. How do you compare the options? What do you think is most important...and will you feel differently in two years?
We've put together a few questions for you to ask, as you visit and inquire with different places. We hope this will help you make the best comparative decision, as you decide what matters to you.
Do you want to be next to a mall and shopping for convenience?
Do you prefer a parkside environment with trails?
Hallmark thought you'd prefer to be in a quiet residential neighbourhood on a park with peaceful trails.
Do you still drive? If so, is there parking available? Underground?
If you don't drive, is there a shuttle bus?
Does the shuttle bus have a lift for scooters and wheelchairs?
How often is it available, and is there an extra cost?
Hallmark has underground parking available, as well as a shuttle bus for taking you to appointments, visits, shopping, and outings. The shuttle bus has a scooter lift, room for walkers, and is designed for seniors. The shuttle is included in your rent, and is available two mornings per week for shuttle services, as well as regular outings.
Do you want basic cable, or a PVR and more options?
What is included in the monthly rent?
Hallmark includes Shaw Classic Cable in your rent, including a TV cable box. Upgrades to other packages and equipment are available from Shaw for extra charges. All suites have cable outlets in the living room and bedroom.
Rental vs. Life-Lease
Do you want to "own" your suite, like a life-lease model, where you purchase the suite, then pay a strata fee for the services package?
Would you want to have to re-sell it if you needed to move in a hurry?
Would you prefer the lesser commitment of a month-to-month rental?
Hallmark offers only rental suites, since most Residents don't want the worry or hassle of ownership, unexpected costs, reselling while in a health crisis, or other concerns. You write one cheque, and we handle the rest.
Do you want a landline phone? With a specific carrier?
Will the community let you bring your old number, sign up with your carrier of choice, or is there a centralized contract and/or phone system?
Hallmark suites have standard telephone jacks, and you can sign up for phone service with your carrier of choice. You can bring your old number from your previous home.
Do you want a plug-in ethernet option for your desktop computer?
Do you want to maintain your TELUS or Shaw email address?
Do you want to have wireless internet available in shared spaces, in your suite, or outside?
Do you want to maintain that yourself, or have someone look after it for you?
Hallmark shared spaces, like the dining rooms and coffee shops, offer complimentary wi-fi for residents and guests. If your suite is too far from those areas, you are welcome to sign up for internet service with the carrier of your choice. Since not everyone uses internet in their suite, it is not cost-effective for us to sign a bulk contract for internet service in every suite.
For Assisted Living, what is the level of care provided?
Are there RNs on staff? If so, how often?
What services are included, and what services are billed as additional?
Can you see a cost sheet for those additional services?
Will the RN advocate for you with your doctor or the health system?
If you go to the hospital, are you charged for meals that you miss at the retirement community?
When you return from a hospital stay, is there an RN on-site who can assess your needs?
Will they make sure you get the additional care you'll need to recover?
At Hallmark, you have the peace of mind that an RN will oversee your transition home after a hospital stay. We want you to relax and get better, and we can advocate for you with your doctor and the hospital. When you're away, we may adjust your invoice to discount for meals you're missing.
What is the track record of rental increases in the community, over the last five years?
If it's a life-lease model, are there "exceptional costs", where residents have had to contribute extra for a roof replacement, if the contingency fund was inadequate?
How predictable will your costs be for the next five years?
Hallmark once-annually rental increases are reasonable and consistent, historically averaging between 1% to2.5%, due to increasing costs of various items like good Team Members, good food, electricity, gas, insurance, landscaping, and city taxes. We have never charged a high increase or unexpected fee, which strata councils sometimes do.
Is there an option for obtaining subsidized funding from the government, if your income is low enough?
If so, does that affect the atmosphere, decision-making, or quality of experience for the private-pay residents?
If you are receiving a subsidy, are you singled out or treated as a second-tier resident?
Hallmark offers 22 subsidized suites through the Independent Living British Columbia program, in partnership with BC Housing and Fraser Health. You can inquire with your Fraser Health social worker about these, or contact us for more information.
How many meals are included each day?
Is there a hot breakfast, or only continental?
Is there an option to purchase additional meals?
How much do guest meals cost? Can you bring guests?
Are the meals delivered pre-packaged, or made in-house by qualified, creative cooks?
What is the emphasis on nutrition?
Are there substitute options if you don't like the entrees being prepared?
Can you see the typical month's menu?
Some places charge you individually for each meal. At Hallmark on the Lake, people start their day with complimentary fresh-baked scones or muffins in our coffee shop, and enjoy lunch and dinner served in our dining room. At Hallmark on the Park, we serve three hot meals each day, including a full breakfast. You are most welcome to invite family and guests to dine with you, and guest meals can be charged to your account for very reasonable prices. Our meals are always home-cooked in our kitchens by our amazing cooks, who balance nutrition with good taste, and considering people's preferences. No, we won't make you eat spinach just because it's good for you, or take away your coffee or dessert. You can request a substitute if you don't like either of the two entree choices at a meal, and our cooks will do their best to accommodate your tastes. We don't really have a typical month's menu, since our cooks are inventing new meals daily, and keeping it interesting.
How often does housekeeping clean your suite? Is that cost additional?
Do they do linens, dusting, or laundry?
Is there an additional cost for laundry?
Are there laundry rooms available for personal laundry, or machines in each suite?
Can you purchase a "spring cleaning" option for a special deep-clean of your suite?
What if my pet makes a mess?
What if I make a mess?
Our friendly housekeepers will clean your suite weekly, and that's included. Personal laundry is an additional cost, or you can use our bright laundry rooms to do your laundry your own way. Laundry rooms are located on each floor. We don't have laundry rooms in each suite, which keeps it quieter for your neighbours. We offer special spring-cleaning packages if you'd like extra special touches, and of course, if your pet has made a mess in the common areas, we'll get that cleaned up right away. If you make a mess, please do call us, and don't be embarrassed. We're here to help.
Many folks tell us that our atmosphere and amenities can't be matched, and we're proud of that.
For suite layouts, costs, and other related details, read on here: