Long-Term Care and COVID-19
Effective March 18, the number of visitors to long term care facilities will no longer be restricted.
VISITING OUR FACILITIES
In balancing the needs of our residents and families in returning to a life of contentment and social activity, the following guidelines remain in place to help ensure the safety and daily wellbeing of residents, visitors and staff:
All visitors will be screened upon arrival and visitors are required to show proof of vaccination status prior to entry (e.g. BC Vaccine Card or equivalent).
- Exemptions are in place for end-of-life visits, children under the age of 12 and those with an approved medical exemption.
- A visitor list, with contact information and vaccination status, will continue to be maintained as per provincial COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance for long-term care and seniors’ assisted living.
All visitors in LTC and Assisted Living (AL) homes are required to wear medical masks for the duration of their visit (indoor and outdoor), including in a resident's shared room. If visiting a resident in a single occupancy room, fully vaccinated visitors may choose to remove their mask during their visit.
RAPID ANTIGEN TESTING
- All visitors in LTC homes are required to complete rapid antigen testing before their visit begins.
- Rapid antigen testing may be conducted at the care home upon arrival or in the community prior to a visit. A rapid antigen test conducted in the community should be completed as close to the visit as possible and not more than 48-hours prior to the visit.
- Rapid antigen test results are to be communicated verbally as part of the screening process at the care home.
- Visitors may access a Rapid Test kit from the care home on their next visit from the Screener or a member of the care team.
- Exemptions to rapid testing are in place for end-of-life visits and children under the age of 12.
To accommodate the expected increase in visiting, while upholding physical distancing and supporting resident safety, we have established visiting hours and a capacity for each neighbourhood. WorkSafe BC and site capacity safety plans inform the maximum number of people for safe visitation.
Entry to the site for visiting hours will be up to 1800 (6pm) to accommodate screening practices. Once screened, visitors may stay for the evening. If you need accommodating outside of these hours, please call the charge nurse in the designated neighbourhood to assist you.
Visitor capacity will be determined by each individual care home. If you are concerned about your ability to visit due to space constraints, please call ahead to confirm. Screeners and visitation support workers will provide guidance around capacity when you arrive.
Please be aware that at the direction of the Medical Health Officer, social visits may be suspended in the event of an outbreak. Essential visits and visits by a single designated visitor may continue during an outbreak.
To ensure you remain apprised of current guidance, please note, in the event of an identification of a COVID-19 positive case within our care homes, and upon consultation with IPAC, a care team member or the care home leader may notify you of the following recommendations:
- If a resident tests positive for COVID-19, they will be placed on additional precautions for a period of ten days. The resident will be limited to activities within their room. There are evolving options for treatment that may be available in some circumstances. The physician or care leader will advise you, if you or your relative is eligible for specific treatment for COVID-19 infection.
- If a resident is exposed to a roommate, they will be placed on additional precautions for a period of seven days. The resident will be limited to activities within their room. It will also be recommended they undergo active surveillance testing, including repeated rapid antigen tests.
- If a resident is exposed to a health care worker or fellow resident (as opposed to a roommate) who has tested positive for COVID-19, isolation and/or surveillance testing will not routinely be recommended and residents will be supported to participate in-group activities.
- If a resident is returning from an extended leave from the care home, they will be offered a COVID-19 test 72 hours upon return to the care home to ensure they have not been exposed within the community.
As part of our routine COVID-19 prevention approach, we will continue to uphold strong prevention and screening practices. Our teams continue to assess residents, visitors and all care team members, on a daily basis, for signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to implement recommendations and safety measures. Please be assured our efforts are geared towards reaching the end of this pandemic while supporting our residents to live their best lives possible until the end is reached.
- Verifying your vaccination status
As per the Public Health Order and Ministry of Health (MoH) directives, you are required to show proof of your vaccination status. Proof of vaccination is considered to be an electronic or a printed copy proof; issued by the government in the form of a QR code, accessible here. Includes the individual’s name and issued for the purpose of showing proof of vaccination. This directive supports public health decision making in the event of a COVID-19 exposure in the care home.
When arriving to the care home for your first visit, the screener will ask you to show proof and will document this. You will not be required to show proof at subsequent visits. Your information is confidential and will not be shared with others.
If you are not fully immunized*, or do not show proof, you will be denied entry to the facility. Exceptions related to compassionate care, such as end of life care, will be considered on an individual basis with additional preventative measures required to support visits involving partially or unimmunized individuals.
Visitors who do not demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated may visit outdoors in space that does not require entry to or passage through the facility. Partially or unimmunized visitor are required to follow and adhere to all IPAC requirements, including wearing a medical mask for the duration of their visit.
*Fully Immunized is defined as seven days after receiving the full series of a World Health Organization (WHO) approved COVID-19 vaccine or a combination of approved WHO Vaccines.
- Who is exempt from the mask policy?
- People under 12 years old
- People unable to wear a mask because of a health condition or physical or mental impairment.
- People unable to put on or remove a mask without help from another person.
Please click here for more information on the masking policy.
- Choosing a single designated visitor
Each resident is supported to have a single designated visitor. Single designated visitors will be able to visit and support residents, without restrictions on frequency or duration of visits, while adhering to all preventative measures in place (e.g., fully vaccinated, screening, masking, rapid testing), including in facilities/units where there is COVID-19, including during declared outbreaks.
As a single designated visitor, visits with your loved one in our care homes no longer require pre-booking or time limits.
- Please identify the designated visitor (1 per resident) to the site leadership.
- The designated visitor is not required to be approved by site leadership.
- A reason for changing out the designated visitor is to be communicated to site leadership in advance, ie extenuating circumstances such as illness, etc.
- What is an Essential Visit?
The BC Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) defines an essential visit as “an essential need that could not be met in the absence of the essential visit.” This can include:
- Visits for compassionate reasons including critical illness, palliative care, hospice care, and end of life.
- Visits paramount to the resident’s physical care and mental well-being (e.g., assistance with feeding, mobility, personal care or communication, assistance by designated representatives for persons with disabilities).
- Visits for supported decision-making.
- Visits required to move belongings in/out of a resident’s room.
Essential visits shall be limited to one visitor per resident within the facility at a time (except in the case of palliative/end-of-life care). Based on resident needs and at the discretion of the site leadership, there may be more than one essential visitor for some residents – determined on a case by case basis at the discretion of the site leadership.
An essential visit is not a social visit and essential visits are permitted in a care home/residence that has an active COVID-19 outbreak, under guidance and direction from the local medical health officer.
- Visiting Appeal and Patient Care Quality Office
Our visiting appeal process remains in place as follows:
- If you have any concerns or challenges with your visits, we ask you connect with a care team leader or resident care manager.
- In the event you are not satisfied with the decision by the care home, you are encouraged to contact Patient Care quality Office (PCQO) at 604-806-8284 or email them at phcPCQO@providencehealth.bc.ca for re-consideration.
- In the event you are not satisfied with the response on behalf of PHC, the issue may be escalated to the Provincial Health Officer via PCQO or independently by mail to: Hlth.email@example.com.
- Visits outside the care home
If you are planning a visit outside of the care home or overnight, similar to practice prior to the pandemic, we ask you organize and discuss the logistics with a care team member. This ensures any resident care needs (including medications) can be planned around.
We will continue to work over the next weeks to assure alternate forms of visitations can occur. Should there be any questions about the essential-visit requirements or designation of a social visitor, please contact the home and allow some time for a decision or response. We will continue to communicate updates and any future changes to visitation guidelines and protocols.
We want to reinforce that we are being extra vigilant in all our homes these days, responding quickly to any COVID-related exposures to residents or staff, stepping up our infection prevention and control protocols to mitigate against virus spread, and communicating to you any COVID-related issues that arise.
As we work to operationalize the recent directives from the MoH, we will be starting to hold care home social events and gatherings. At this time, we will be able to invite visitors to participate in outdoor social gatherings only. All gatherings will align with active provincial health orders.
INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL (IPAC) PRECAUTIONS
Hand Hygiene and respiratory etiquette remain critical measures to reduce the transmission of COVID- 19 and other common bugs which can have a detrimental impact on residents and the care home. We ask you continue to be diligent about performing hand hygiene at the beginning, throughout and at the end of your visit.
Screening practices remain in effect upon arrival of your visit. Screeners will continue to request contact information and keep a daily visiting log to ensure compliance with contact tracing measures.
Physical distancing remains a key precaution. We ask you be mindful of maintain a 2m distance from others wherever possible. Visitors are still asked to limit movement around the care home.
For more information regarding Providence Health Care's COVID-19 response please click here.
FIND MORE MULTILINGUAL COVID-19 RESOURCES HERE
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Read the ADVANCE CARE PLANNING & GOALS OF CARE IN LONG-TERM CARE DURING COVID-19