Eased restrictions at long-term care homes take effect today

Eased restrictions at long-term care homes take effect today
John Wikkerink talks to his daughter Joan on the phone while she stands outside the window at Cerwydden long-term care in Duncan.

The province’s looser restrictions surrounding visitiation to long-term care homes and assisted living facilities went into effect Thursday.

Up to two visitors plus a child will be able to visit their loved for a minimum of 60 minutes, following an announcement from the government last week.

It means the province’s previous requirement of one single designated visitor has been removed to allow for others. Included in the changes: family and friends will now be able to visit their loved ones in their own rooms without staff monitoring.

Families will also be able to physically touch their loved ones with appropriate protective measures like hand hygiene and masks.

Physical distancing requirements between residents will also be removed and they will once again be able to resume some communal dining and small-group social activities.

The requirement to isolate for 14 days upon admission is set to be eliminated for those who are vaccinated.

Visitors will have to book ahead to reserve their time to visit a loved one and all will be screened upon entrance. Visitors won’t be able to visit family members in long-term care while they’re taking part in any group activities. Read all of the new rules on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s website.

Former MLA and current CEO of the BC Care Providers Association Terry Lake expressed cautious optimism for the relaxed rules, though they come at a time when B.C. is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and variants of concern.

On Wednesday, the province reported it’s largest single-day case count since the start of the pandemic with 1,013 new cases

“We have been asking the Provincial Health Officer for months to relax restrictions on care homes in a way that ensured the safety of residents and staff,” Lake said in a statement. “We did not anticipate the re-opening would be so wide ranging and coincide with a surge in cases and new variants that spread more easily.”

He asked all visitors to “be patient” with the process and to respect all new guidelines that were in place, including caps on number of visitors and requirements for masking and hand sanitizing.


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