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More staff needed in long term care homes before visiting restrictions can be eased

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October 01, 2020 - 4:45 PM

Despite a rally urging visitation restrictions in B.C. long term care homes be eased, there are no clear timelines on when that might happen.

Yesterday’s rally drew about 75 people to the steps of the Legislature in Victoria seeking better access to their loved ones. Some residents are declining physically because the staff don’t have time to make sure they eat properly or are failing mentally because of the isolation, family members say. But the province's top doctor says that can't happen yet.

“We’re working on making sure there is appropriate staff to provide the care that is needed to increase the care hours for people so that everybody gets what they need,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Henry said during her COVID-19 briefing today, Oct. 1, in response to questions from

In July, she eased the rules from only allowing essential visitors who helped feed and look after residents who needed such help to letting in one social visitor, but only the same person each time.

“We are looking at moving to, at least, having an alternate person, not more than one person at a time but an alternate person,” Dr. Henry said, but would not say how soon that might happen stressing the need to have enough staff in place to do that safely.

“We are just seized with the challenge that this virus is still circulating in our community,” she said. “The best we can do is to suppress it in our community. That gives us the opportunity to increase the number of people we can have in our long term care homes.”

There has been one more outbreak in a long term care home in the Lower Mainland in the past 24 hours. It’s confined, so far, to one staff member but it is the second outbreak in that home.

That means there are currently 15 long term care homes in B.C. with outbreaks. In all, 860 people have been infected in long term care homes since the pandemic began, 513 of whom are residents and 347 are staff.

“The Ministry is working with each individual home to make sure they have the staff that are needed to provide care to all residents,” Dr. Henry said. “This is the challenge we have. It’s not just my individual person. If I bring it into a care home – and we’ve seen this, unfortunately, happen recently – it is the whole home that is at risk so we have to find that balance.”

READ MORE: If B.C. finally changes visitation rules in long term care homes, it may come from this survey

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