Starting April 1, British Columbia is easing a number of rules and restrictions for those living in long-term care homes and those who wish to visit them.
The changes to long-term care visits were announced in late March and are meant to create more frequent, routine opportunities for social interaction.
“This year has been challenging for all of us, but the challenges for those living and working in long-term care and their loved ones have been among the greatest we have faced,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a statement.
“Now that the most vulnerable among us have received a vaccine, we are safely amending restrictions to give people in long-term care greater opportunities to connect with the people they love.”
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The eased restrictions coming into effect include the following:
- Removing the requirement for a single designated social visitor to allow for additional family and friends to visit long-term care and assisted living residents.
- Expanding the number of visitors so that up to two visitors, plus a child, will be allowed to visit at a time, allowing people to connect in small groups.
- Changing the allowable location of visits so family and friends can visit in residents’ rooms without staff present.
- Allowing physical touch between visitors and residents, provided appropriate infection prevention and control measures, like masks and hand hygiene, are in place.
Visitation will continue to be suspended during outbreaks and will continue to require advanced booking, visitor health screening, use of medical masks and frequent hand hygiene.
When Henry announced the eased restrictions, however, she acknowledged that it “is likely we are going to have more outbreaks” in care homes, now that more people are being allowed to visit.
She stressed that things are at a point where “the benefits of having those social connections and interactions outweigh the risks.”
“We can manage those risks with the vast majority of residents and staff now protected.”
With files from Eric Zimmer