Visitation restrictions have been relaxed. Now What?

On June 30, the BC Ministry of Health announced they would be relaxing restrictions on visits in long-term care homes and assisted living residences. This news has many family members are asking what this means for them and the people they care about.


Why visitations were restricted

On March 16, 2020 Minister of Health, Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province was moving to restrict visits in long-term care homes to essential visits only. This decision was made to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes and assisted living residences, where residents are most vulnerable to adverse outcomes, due to age and chronic health issues.

While the impacts of this directive have been challenging for families and residents, the swift action on this issue has also been celebrated as a key factor in B.C.’s efforts to “flatten the curve.”

Relaxed restrictions

On June 30, the BC Ministry of Health announced they would be relaxing restrictions on visits in long-term care homes and assisted living residences, as to allow for residents to have a single designated visitor in specific visiting areas. This approach will be monitored through July, with an aim to expand it in August.

Visits will be immediately suspended at care homes or assisted living residences under outbreak protocols.

What you need to know:

  1. Above all else, please never visit if you feel even slightly unwell.
  2. Only one designated visitor will be permitted for each resident.
  3. Long-term care and assisted living homes may take some time to implement this new approach to visits. Please be patient.
  4. You must book your visit in advance. This will help ensure everyone’s safety.
  5. You will be screened for signs and symptoms of illness, including COVID-19, prior to every visit. You will not be permitted to visit if you, or the person you are visiting is sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  6. Visits will take place in specific “visiting areas,” which will be organized by each residence.
  7. You will be required to bring and wear a mask.
  8. You must clean you hands before and after visit.
  9. Visitors should maintain a distance of two arm lengths from others.
  10. Visits are not allowed if there is an active COVID-19 outbreak at the residence.

Other tips:

  1. Continue to virtually visit your loved one.
  2. Always ask before giving a gift, including food and drink. There will likely be a protocol about how to do this, or if it is allowed.
  3. It is likely, that after several months of not visiting, you may notice changes in the person’s physical or cognitive health. Be prepared with a self care plan for after your visit. Consider contacting an organization which supports caregivers such as the Alzheimer Society of B.C. or the Family Caregivers of British Columbia (see Route 65’s resource page for more information).
  4. Thank the staff. Your words will mean a lot following a very stressful time.

For more information about timelines and protocols please contact the residence where your family member or friend lives.  Processes will vary across sites.

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