Ontario government announces that it will soon begin a “careful restart” of family visits to long-term care homes, group homes and retirement homes that are not experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 . Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday, saying that starting June 18, families may be able to visit loved ones as part of a larger environment , but with strict guidelines in place.
“We need families to be able to see their loved ones,” Ford told reporters. “I know we are all desperately waiting for this day, but we cannot take this progress for granted, we cannot forget that these parameters are vulnerable to the epidemics of COVID-19, so we must remain vigilant, we must go from there before, but we must do it with caution. ”
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, advised long-term care homes in late March to allow only essential visitors, including visitors from residents who are extremely ill or in need of care end of life.
The province is now easing the recommendation to allow visits to places of life grouped together by loved ones if appropriate protocols are followed.
To be able to visit, a person must have obtained a negative result in the COVID-19 test within two weeks of the visit, they must pass an “active screening questionnaire” and they must wash their hands on arrival and departure, as well as wear a mask and maintain a physical distance.
“We are seeing the number of infections stabilizing in our long-term care homes, thanks to the tireless efforts of staff, our hospital partners and the Canadian Armed Forces.” Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton told reporters Thursday at the press conference.
“On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we have developed a responsible staggered visit plan that will allow you to visit loved ones in retirement and long-term care homes that are not in epidemic from the next week. ”
For long-term care homes, Fullerton said the province “allows one visitor per resident to at least one visit per week for an outdoor visit only”. Retirement homes, she said, will have “interior and exterior visits, the number of visitors being left to the discretion of the home.”
There are currently 77 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities and 29 in retirement homes. More than 5,307 long-term care residents fought COVID-19 and more than 1,600 people died.
Ford said his wife Karla asked her daily when she could visit her long-term care mother, who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“It comes home.” I hear it. I even see when we visit out the window and talk to other families, “said Ford. “We will do everything we can until you can see your loved ones – it means everything to people. ”
Ford also said that homes have the final say on whether or not they are ready to welcome visitors.
Minister of Children, Social and Community Services, Todd Smith, said two visitors per resident would be allowed into outside areas of homes that support people with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and residential establishments for children.
“Collective care facilities will be responsible for implementing and communicating infection prevention and control protocols to visitors, which include active screening for all visitors, evidence of a negative COVID-19 test at during the previous 14 days, temperature controls, physical distance during the visit, mandatory wearing of a mask and disinfection of the outdoor space used for the visit, ”said Smith.
“We ask all visitors to take these guidelines seriously and to listen to all staff on site. “