Major changes announced easing visitor restrictions, single site order guidelines for long-term care, assisted living

This afternoon at a news announcement featuring Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, new major changes were outlined that will take effect on July 19, 2021. The changes are in the areas of:

  • Visitation in long-term care and seniors assisted living;
  • IPAC (infection control and prevention) protocols in care homes
  • Single site order

“The changes announced today by Minister Dix and Dr. Henry are ones we have championed for over the last several months, and they are greatly welcomed by our organization,” says Terry Lake, CEO and BCCPA and EngAge BC. “We thank both Ministry of Health staff and those at Public Health who took part in preparing this plan. For families and for the workforce in long-term care and assisted living, these changes could not come soon enough. Once again families will be able to see their loved ones in care, and front line staff will get some relief from the single site restrictions.”

The Ministry has provided a slide presentation in advance of a more detailed Q&A that will be released in the days ahead. The slide presentation is available for download here. The Ministry of Health’s news release is located here.

Visitation Changes
  • Remove the requirement to schedule visits in advance.
  • Remove the limit on the number of visitors and allow visitation in alignment with site capacity to support resident needs and well-being.
  • Screening of visitors and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices such as hand hygiene, use of medical masks and physical distancing remain in place.
Vaccination of Visitors
  • Strongly recommended visitors be fully immunized recognizing residents are still vulnerable to COVID-19 even when fully immunized themselves. Visitors will be asked to provide proof of vaccination status.
  • Fully immunized visitors are required to wear a medical mask while moving through the facility and in common areas, but are not required to wear a mask while in direct contact with the person they are visiting.
  • Visitors who do not demonstrate that they are fully immunized are required to wear a medical mask for the duration of their visit, including when in direct contact with the person they are visiting.
Staff and Resident Vaccination
  • PHO Order will require all long term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities to maintain and provide public health records of the vaccination status of residents, staff, personal service providers and volunteers.
  • Staff who are not confirmed to be fully immunized against COVID-19 will be required to wear a mask and undergo regular rapid testing and any follow-up required from that testing.
  • Personal service providers and volunteers working in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living must be fully immunized.
Adult Day Programs
  • Resume all adult day programs (ADP) including those that share space, staff and/or equipment with a long-term care home or assisted living residence.
  • Require all clients to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination. Individual exceptions require approval of the Medical Health Officer and compliance with mask use and physical distancing requirements.
  • Recognizing a period of transition may be needed to achieve opening of all ADP sites, health authorities will work to open all sites by September 2021.
Single Site Orders
  • The Single Site Orders, put in place last spring, prohibit staff from working at multiple long-term care and assisted living sites in order to protect seniors vulnerable to serious illness and death from COVID-19.
  • These orders will be amended to allow fully immunized staff to work across a designated cluster of sites.
  • The Ministry of Health will work closely with health authorities, unions and operators to work through the details of how best to identify and enable pools of fully immunized staff to move between sites to address staffing challenges.

More details are outlined in the downloadable presentation here. Check back at this page for more detailed information on the changes when they become available.

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