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Additional visitors and longer, unmonitored visits to be allowed in B.C. long-term care

Click to play video: 'B.C. government eases visitation restrictions in long-term care homes' B.C. government eases visitation restrictions in long-term care homes
Families across B.C. are planning joyous reunions, now that the provincial government is easing visitation restrictions in long-term care homes. Richard Zussman has the details. – Mar 25, 2021

Residents of long-term care and assisted-living facilities will soon be able to have “regular, frequent and routine” opportunities for social visits.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday that visitors will soon be able to hold and touch their loved ones.

Read more: B.C. Ombudsperson supports updating long-term care visit policy

Previously, visitors could not have any physical contact with a long-term care resident. There will be infection prevention and control measures in place, including masks and handwashing, for any physical contact.

Click to play video: 'Expert: Restrictions on care home visits traumatized families' Expert: Restrictions on care home visits traumatized families
Expert: Restrictions on care home visits traumatized families – Mar 12, 2021

The new policies come into place on April 1.

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Residents will be able to see additional family and friends, as the province drops the restriction to a single, designated social visitor.

Under the existing restrictions visits were supervised, and the new policy drops that requirement.

Locations of the visits will be changed to allow friends and family to visit residents in their rooms without staff monitoring.

Under the new rules, visits to care home residents will be for a minimum of 60 minutes.

Click to play video: 'Changes coming to B.C. long term care visitation rules on April 1' Changes coming to B.C. long term care visitation rules on April 1
Changes coming to B.C. long term care visitation rules on April 1 – Mar 25, 2021

As for policies within care homes, the province is removing physical distancing guidelines between residents and resuming communal dining and small group recreational activities.

Social visits will still require advanced booking, screening and use of masks. If there is an outbreak at a care home, social visits will be suspended.

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Read more: Report finds communication, coordination issues in B.C.’s long-term care COVID-19 response

More than 90 per cent of staff and residents in assisted living and long-term care have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The province has also immunized a majority of eligible essential visitors.

B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie has been calling on the province to expand visitations.

In November, Mackenzie released a survey from those in care and their loved ones saying they would like to see more of their family members amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey suggested residents were more worried about seeing their loved ones than they are about contracting COVID-19.

More to come…

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