Long term care homes in B.C. being opened up for visitors on a limited basis - InfoNews

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Long term care homes in B.C. being opened up for visitors on a limited basis

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Government of B.C.
June 30, 2020 - 1:00 PM

The opening up of long term care homes to visitors in B.C. will be done the same way as other re-openings; slowly and carefully.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced today, June 30, that visitors will now be allowed in long term and assisted care homes but it may take a week or more for approved plans to be put in place in individual facilities.

“We’re all a little anxious because we know what can happen if we don’t get this right,” Dr. Henry said.

“We will continue to take things slowly, and thoughtfully, to be cautious. Change your appointment if you’re not feeling well. This will be so incredibly important.”

She said the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. is very low but not zero, so there is always some risk. While residents in long term care are the most vulnerable to getting sick and dying of the disease, there needs to be a balance between that risk and the negative consequences of being apart from family and loved ones.

Each care facility will, first of all, need to be free of any COVID-19 outbreak.

Each of the B.C.’s 32,000 residents of long term and assisted living homes will be allowed one visitor who will be screened by staff when they enter and must wear masks. They will be trained on how to wear those masks properly. Visits must be booked in advance.

Visits will be in designated indoor or outdoor spaces and, for those with limited mobility, visits may be allowed in rooms.

Initially, visitors will only be able to visit the residents but, Dr. Henry said, she hopes it will come to the point where some people may be able to assist the resident with things like feeding.

Personal service workers, such as hairdressers and barbers, will be able to go into long term care homes since the residents won’t likely be allowed to go out, except for essential care, for up to a year and it’s deemed safer to have workers come in.

People living in assisted care homes will have more opportunities to go out but were urged to keep their social outings to a minimum.

If things go well, Dr. Henry said, the rules on things like the number of visitors allowed will be eased. That could happen as early as August.

The province will provide $160 million so each of the province’s 680 long term and assisted care homes can hire up to three additional staff for up to a year to assist with the visiting program. That could create 2,040 jobs.

Money is also being given to facilities to compensate for COVID-19 costs they incurred between March 31 and the end of June, Dix said.

Dr. Henry said this does not apply to acute care hospitals, in part because patients are usually there for shorter periods. She is looking at the possibility of allowing visits to patients who are in hospitals longer but that is not part of today’s announcement.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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