Manitobans waiting to visit loved ones at personal care homes will have to wait a little while longer as the facilities prepare to welcome visitors once again.
The province announced yesterday care homes would be permitted to allow limited indoor visits with a number of health precautions in place as of today, but people involved with those facilities say it’s going to take some time.
“We have a lot of work to do to prepare for this,” says Jan Legeros, the executive director of Long Term & Continuing Care Association of Manitoba.
“Some of (the personal care homes) are quite large and have possibly 200 residents or so. They need to assess all of the residents and talk to families (to) determine if there’s any way that a safer way of visiting can be employed.”
Legeros says indoor visitation is really a third option if the first two safer ways of visiting — virtually or outdoors — aren’t feasible.
To accommodate indoor visits, care homes will have to find a designated room, preferably close to an entrance, and then have staff members set aside time to arrange and manage the meeting, says Legeros, adding that includes disinfecting the room between visits.
They’ll also need to be present the entire time to “help guide the family members so they understand all the safety measures that are in place. So no hugging unfortunately, no physical contact whatsoever, two meters apart, all of those things,” Legeros says.
The added responsibilities for staff shouldn’t be taken lightly, according to Connie Newman, the executive director of the Manitoba Association of Seniors Centres (MASC).
“When you think about it, where is the staff coming from to ensure that before I go in to visit my loved one I’m COVID-19, and the testing, and the questions, etc.,” Newman says.
“If you’ve gone to a hospital recently and they do that security check and ask you all those questions, that takes people power.”
Visiting virtually remains the safest way to see loved ones, Legeros says, but not all residents — especially those with dementia — can use the technology, while others can’t leave the building for outdoor visits for one reason or another, which is when indoor visits would be appropriate.
Legeros added it’s difficult to say when exactly visitors will be welcome indoors again, as it will vary between homes.