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The Threats of Privatization to Security in Long-Term Residential Care


This paper argues that privatization, especially in the form of for-profit, chain ownership, undermines security in old age. Using data from research in Canada and focusing on the specific case of long-term residential care, this paper examines four aspects of security; security of physical access, security of financial access, security of quality and security of employment for those providing care.

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  1. Data just released from the 2011 Census indicate that, although the share of the Canadian population aged 65+ is growing, it remains lower than that of any other G7 country save the US. Meanwhile, Canada’s share aged 15–64 also remains stable, and lower than that of any other G7 country. The growth rate among those aged 0–4 is higher than it has been since the 1956–61 period, which was during the baby boom (Statistics Canada 2012).

  2. The most spectacular, but not the only, recent case in England involves Southern Cross, a chain serving 31,000 residents. Its troubles stemmed from a sale and lease back scheme involving most of its 750 homes to obtain quick cash for shareholders and expansion. By early 2011, occupancy rates were falling as impoverished local (municipal) sent fewer seniors to these homes. Meanwhile, the rental agreements contained automatic escalator clauses. The firm is now being wound up, with bank and landlord creditors suffering huge losses (Wright 2011; Wachman 2011).

  3. The Regulations under Ontario’s 2010 Retirement Homes Act did not come fully into effect until 1 January 2014 “In order to allow retirement homes time to comply with the new regulations” (Ontario 2012a). The regulation on ceasing to operate a retirement home came into effect on 1 January 2013.


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This paper is a product of a seven-year team project on ‘Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care: An International Study of Promising Practices’ funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (File# 412-2010-1004: Pat Armstrong, Principal Investigator), with additional funding from the European Research Area in Ageing 2 project for a study on ‘Healthy Ageing In Residential Places’.

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Correspondence to Pat Armstrong.

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Armstrong, P., Armstrong, H. & MacLeod, K.K. The Threats of Privatization to Security in Long-Term Residential Care. Ageing Int 41, 99–116 (2016).

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  • Long-term residential care
  • Security
  • Quality
  • Finances