Rules Relaxed for Visits to Long-term Care Homes, Seniors’ Assisted Living Facilities

Dr Bonnie Henry, Adrian Dix

Victoria – We can now begin to be able to have a single designated visitor in a specific visiting area so we can see our loved ones in long-term care homes and seniors assisted living facilities. This approach will be monitored through July, with an aim to expand it in August.

Visitation requirements for long-term care home and seniors’ assisted living facilities include:

  • Visitation in individual facilities can resume once they have their required written safety plan in place.
  • Once in place, residents will be able to have one designated visitor in appropriate designated spaces.
  • Designated spaces will include outdoor or indoor locations; and
  • all visitors must bring and appropriately wear masks.

Essential visitor restrictions remain in place for other health-care settings.

In addition, personal service providers, including hairdressers, will be able to come into long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities if they have completed a WorkSafeBC safety plan.

“British Columbians flattened the curve through individual actions and a commitment to look out for each other – our families, friends and neighbours,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “That commitment has come with many sacrifices, especially from our seniors and Elders who have been separated from their loved ones. That’s why throughout this pandemic, we are have sought to continually improve our long-term care and seniors’ assisted living operations, to make them safer for residents and those who care for them. Each of us must continue to be completely committed to combatting this virus for these historic investments to be effective.”

Backgrounders

Guidelines to protect residents, workers and visitors at care homes

In March 2020, the Ministry of Health required all long-term care and seniors’ assisted living operators in B.C. to restrict visitors to essential visits only to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The new requirements issued on June 30, 2020, will allow for family and social visits when facility operators have a written plan to ensure:

  • There is no active COVID-19 outbreak at the care home or residence.
  • Social visits are scheduled in advance between the visitor and facility.
  • There is a maximum of one designated close family or friend per resident, if sufficient space exists to ensure physical distancing requirement.
  • Residents will meet their visitor in the designated location. The three key locations are:
    • outdoor locations dedicated to visiting when the weather permits;
    • indoor designated locations; and,
    • individual single-client room for residents with limited mobility.
  • There is clear signage to help families and residents to have a safe and successful visit.
  • Screening for symptoms of illness, including COVID- 19, occurs prior to every visit.
  • Visitors are instructed when to perform hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and safe physical distancing.
  • Visitors must bring and wear a mask.
  • Visitors are instructed on how to put on and remove any required personal protective equipment when visiting or caring for residents who have respiratory symptoms.
  • Visitors go directly to the person they are visiting and exit the facility directly after their visit.
  • There are adequate numbers of designated staff to provide pre-screening, screening on arrival, provide information on infection prevention and control for the visit, monitor the visit and monitor leaving of the residence.
  • All furniture and surfaces in the visit area are sanitized at the end of each visit. Time should be allowed for sanitizing visitor areas and supporting residents to move to and from the visiting area between visits.

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