For anyone that has loved ones or friends in long term care facilities in British Columbia the pandemic has been brutal. Often family members provided much of the basic care, and also provided social and mental wellness support to people in these facilities.
And then came the Covid pandemic.
Jen St. Denis wrote in July about the management of the Veterans Memorial Manor at 310 Alexander Street which was not allowing visitors to come into the facility. This facility houses 133 vulnerable seniors and veterans who did not have much external interaction but management felt the “no visitors”policy was important to protect vulnerable residents during the Covid pandemic. Of course this policy also impacted the physical and mental health of some residents who relied on visitors for social stimulation and a way to spend their day.
I have previously written about Long Term Care for seniors which appeals to the “Greatest Generation” and the”Silent Generation” cohort (those born 1910-1924 and 1925-1945.) Those two generations considered having restaurant style prepared meals in central dining rooms, structured and organized activities, and personal service in room cleaning and management a luxury.
Of course no one imagined that a pandemic would force the closure of these long term care facilities in such a way that many residents became prisoners and confined to their facilities or to their rooms during the pandemic.
In June in British Columbia long term care facilities were asked to submit plans to the Province to allow one visitor at a time per resident for one half hour behind plexiglass or outdoors. Each facility has a different management plan, and family members cannot touch or assist the resident in any way.
Realizing that operators of long term care facilities had been inconsistent in providing clear policy on visits by caregivers (including families), that province is now allowing two designated caregivers to visit at any time including during a covid outbreak subject to “direction from the local public health unit”.
“If a home is not in outbreak, and the resident is not self-isolating or symptomatic, caregivers can visit together. If a home is in outbreak, or the resident is self-isolating or symptomatic, they must visit one at a time to limit risk of transmission and follow direction from the local public health unit.”
The Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care stated: “Bringing comfort and care, caregivers make a vital contribution to the overall well-being of long-term care residents. Today’s announcement will ensure that guidelines on their visits are applied consistently across homes so that all residents get the support they deserve.”
The Ontario government is monitoring this policy of inclusion, and strives to “continue to make every effort to support the safety and emotional wellbeing of residents and the staff who care for them.”
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