Easing of long-term care visitation rules came in place yesterday (Thursday, April 1), and it’s meaning a world of difference to many seniors in B.C., including in Langley.
Hundreds of people living in local long-term care homes have been able to see and hug family members they haven’t seen for more than a year.
Rita Humber, 89, for instance, was delighted to see her 13-year-old granddaughter today.
Humber, a resident of Marwood House at Langley Memorial Hospital said she was so thankful for the vaccine and the fact that she could see and hug her family.
“So happy!,” she shared.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced back on March 25 that the rules would be eased in care homes effect the start of this month.
“This pandemic has taken an incredible toll on people in long-term care and on their loved ones,” said Dix.
“We are grateful for the sacrifices people living and working in long-term care and their families have made to keep one another safe. With vaccines bringing an important layer of protection for everyone in our province, it is a safe time to ease visitor restrictions and support safe social connections for people in long-term care.”
As of Thursday, all residents in long-term care and assisted living are able to have frequent, routine opportunities for social visitation.
Eased restrictions include:
• 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 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; and
• allowing physical touch between visitors and residents, provided appropriate infection prevention and control measures, like masks and hand hygiene, are in place.
Social 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.
“Changes to long-term care visitation to allow for increased social connection are incredibly welcome news for seniors and Elders in long-term care, and the communities that support them,” said Mable Elmore, parliamentary secretary for seniors services and long-term care.
“Through the unprecedented challenges this pandemic has posed, B.C. has taken strong action to protect people in long-term care and their loved ones, and we will continue to do everything we can to keep people in long-term care healthy and safe, both during this pandemic and beyond.”
Early in the pandemic, public health officials identified people living in long-term care and assisted living as particularly vulnerable to severe outcomes from COVID-19. In response, the province implemented lockdown protocols for those seniors, to keep them safe and healthy.
“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 Henry.
“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.”
People living and working in long-term care and assisted living were among the very first to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as a part of B.C.’s strategy to use vaccines to protect those most vulnerable to severe illness first and reduce transmission in high-risk settings.
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