The family of a resident at a B.C. care home is angry with what they say are unfair delays in getting visitation access to their loved ones.
While restrictions on visits to the province’s long-term care facilities were relaxed on Thursday, they say they’re being rolled out more slowly at the Langley Lodge — without any clear indication on how long it will be.
Until the devastating second wave of the pandemic, the Langley Lodge was the site of B.C.’s deadliest care home outbreak, which claimed 26 lives between April and July.
One family member, who Global News has agreed not to name because she fears it could affect her loved one’s treatment, said she didn’t expect the facility to throw the doors open blindly, but that the restrictions that remain in place are overly onerous.
“I anticipated there would be a process to that. Likely booked appointments, but that other family members, other than the designated visitor who has been attending visits so far, they would be able to come in and spend some time with their loved ones,” she said.
“The plan proposed by the home is the first week they will increase interactions among the residents, increase social activities and dining rituals, and then the second week the designated visitor will have an extended visit in the resident’s room.
“But it isn’t until the third week that they will allow the introduction of a new visitor and it is only one new visitor and that visitor has to come with the designated visitor who has already been there.”
She said Langley Lodge has given no indication if and when it will move beyond those restrictions. She said trying to coordinate two family members to always attend at the same time is unrealistic.
And she said despite virtual visits, her family member’s condition continues to deteriorate in isolation.
“She seems more confused, she’s not happy, very depressed. I believe the home takes very good care of her, but we are her family,” she said.
“We’re not able to support her mental health, and we’re very, very concerned about that.”
Langley Lodge CEO Debra Hauptman said she sympathizes with family members, but that the facility’s first priority is the safety of residents.
She said Langley Lodge was blindsided by the province’s relaxed restrictions, which she said she learned from the news on March 25 with the rest of the general public.
“Our assumption was that when visitation opened, it would open gradually and that would be the more cautious approach,” she said.
Hauptman said the lodge was first concentrating on re-socializing the residents together and moving to increase the number of visitors in the building per day to 50.
“I’m sure you can appreciate that that’s quite a change from having really no visitors in the home for a whole year,” she said. “That allows us to align our resources and to ensure that we make sure that everyone coming in goes through the screening process, that they are familiar with protocols.”
Under the visitation guidelines the province announced, residents can see two visitors plus a child at a time in their room without staff supervision. Hugging and hand-holding is also permitted.
But provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has also warned that the virus can still get into care homes and stressed the need for caution.
On Friday, Fraser Health declared a new outbreak at the Chartwell Langley Gardens care home.
Hauptman said her concern is that while residents may have been vaccinated, the majority of visitors to care homes may not be.
“I don’t think anyone would argue that Langley Lodge shouldn’t take a very cautious approach after what we’ve been through in 2020, and certainly at the Lodge,” she said.
“In fact, some families have expressed relief that we are going to do this and be safe. The last thing we want is an outbreak.”
The woman Global News spoke with agreed that caution was necessary.
But she believes the facility should be able to balance caution with access and should provide families with a concrete plan for when and how they’ll be able to visit their loved ones.
“If these current restrictions are not lifted, she will not see more visitors and we could actually revert to no visitors,” she said.
“We don’t know. It seems now like the home has all of the power to decide whether or not the residents will have access to other family members and what that access looks like.”View link »