Ontario is restricting visitors to long-term care homes starting next week, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities.
Effective Monday, October 5, visitors to long-term care homes will be restricted to staff and essential visitors only, which includes essential caregivers.
According to the province, “residents and substitute decision makers are encouraged to identify up to two individuals as essential caregivers. Doing so will ensure the continuation of visits and support the physical and mental well-being of residents at the home.”
And essential caregivers must follow all public health measures, including having a negative COVID-19 test within two weeks of a visit, passing active screening at the home, wearing a mask and additional PPE as directed, and practising frequent hand washing.
“We have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable, while ensuring they continue to have access to the best medical staff and their caregivers,” said Ford.
“We are taking every step possible to fortify that iron ring of protection around our long-term care homes and that includes updating the visitor policy. I encourage family members to identify as essential caregivers at the homes, so they can continue to visit and support both the physical and mental well-being of their loved ones and all the residents.”
The Ontario government is also investing close to $540 million in the sector to help with staffing, HVAC systems, PPE and support homes.
When asked why the province hasn’t made these improvements sooner, Ford responded that they have “come a tremendous way” since the start of the pandemic.
With 78 residents testing positive for the virus in long-term care homes Ford said that is one-tenth of a percentage of people who have the virus in the facilities.
“One-tenth of a percent is one-tenth too many, but put it into perspective,” he said. “We were in the crisis when this first happened.”
On Monday, Ford said “we know that this will be worse than the first wave, but what we don’t know yet is how bad the second wave will be.”
Ford said that our actions will decide if this is “a wave or a tsunami.”
The long-term care investment is part of the province’s plan Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19.