Government directs AHS to develop policy on banning visitors at long-term care facilities

Sarah Hoffman speaks in Lethbridge July 2015.
Sarah Hoffman speaks in Lethbridge July 2015. Global News

EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister has ordered Alberta Health Services to create a clear, consistent policy when it comes to restricting or banning visitors at long-term care facilities in the province.

Sarah Hoffman made the announcement Tuesday. She said it comes after learning about a number of concerns around the practice.

“At some facilities there’s concern around family members might (be) feeling that there might be retribution including that their access to a family member is being limited if they speak up about certain cases,” said Hoffman.

“My expectation is that we develop a policy to ensure consistent practice throughout AHS facilities that really focuses on making sure that patients are safe.”

Right now, AHS does not have an across-the-board policy at its facilities when it comes to banning and restricting family members and other visitors from seniors’ homes and long-term care facilities.

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David O’Brien with AHS said they currently have a number of different policies in place at their facilities. This is because when AHS was formed it was made up of a number of regional health authorities, each of which had their own policy, O’Brien said.

“We’ll undertake a review of existing practices and we’ll look at establishing one clear, consistent and transparent policy and we’ll look at current bans in relationship to that new policy.”

O’Brien said bans are sometimes required when a family member or visitor is disruptive, aggressive or threatening.

“Ultimately, what might negatively impact the care of any resident in a long-term care facility needs to be dealt with and on occasion and very rarely, it may result in us needing to ban a specific visitor for a period of time.”

However, O’Brien admits having a clear policy in place is the way to go.

Hoffman has directed AHS to come up with the policy by the end of March.