From the beginning, Old York Towers' board members had been influenced by a 1989 study by a local seniors' group that, among other things, concluded that the most important element needed for seniors to stay in their community was the certainty that help was available when needed. They incorporated features – such as emergency pull cords – that signal to an attendant in a first-floor office that help is required.
To increase economies of scale, Old York Tower formed a partnership with two neighbouring housing co-operatives, OWN (built by the Older Women's Network) and New Hibret (which has 141 units for families and disabled renters). After years of lobbying, the board persuaded the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to approve a pilot project. In the end, the health services were provided by Dixon Hall, a respected, community-based social service agency.
Of the 500 units, there are approximately 100 to 110 active cases at any given time. Some, who suffer from a chronic disability, need help with bathing, housekeeping and other daily tasks and are permanently on the list; others have recently had surgery or an illness and require temporary assistance.