Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversay March 31. Patient visits have been restricted to essential only in the COVID-19 pandemic. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)

COVID-19: B.C. to start allowing visits to senior care homes

One designated visitor to start, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. care home residents and their loved ones have a chance to resume in-person visits, under strict COVID-19 pandemic conditions to be finalized within the next week to 10 days.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the lifting of essential-only visits June 30, after the province struggled to prevent and contain outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. To start, assisted living and long-term care homes will allow a designated visitor for each patient, once each facility has a written plan in place to meet public health conditions and visitor screening and scheduling in place.

Visits may be outside or in designated private rooms as determined on a site-by-site basis, Henry said. Assisted living residents may be able to venture out of their homes with a visitor, as long as community cases of COVID-19 remain low.

Facilities that have a current outbreak will not be allowed to have visitors, and designated visitors will be required to bring a mask and wear it appropriately. Virus testing for visitors is not being imposed, Henry said. “What we do need is for people to be fastidious about checking for symptoms,” she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said more than 2,000 additional staff are being hired for B.C.’s 680 long-term care and assisted living facilities, to schedule visits and screen visitors.

Dix and Henry acknowledged that allowing only essential visits and turning most relatives away has been difficult. “You have sacrificed more than many,” Henry said.

“It’s not just about extending life but about living life, and that involves engaging with people you love,” Dix said.

RELATED: B.C. care home takes part in COVID-19 study

VIDEO: 100th birthday marked by singing outside window

Later stages of the visitation program may include family groups, if the care home in question has an appropriate space for that, Henry said.

Dix noted that almost 100 B.C. residents have died of COVID-19-related conditions since the pandemic took hold in February, prompting his ministry to impose a single-site rule for all care home and health facility support staff to minimize risk of carrying infection from one care home to another.

About 8,800 multiple-site employees have now been assigned to a single site, and wages increased so they can make a living on one job, he said. The initial cost estimate for that change was $10 million per month, and an updated cost of all the changes is expected as early as this week.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grand Forks pool aims for gradual reopening

The Piranhas Swim Club will be the first to test the water, starting July 20

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Sculpture to offer point of beauty and unity at rivers’ junction in Grand Forks

Artist David Seven Deers spent 19 months sculpting Shining Raven Woman

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

Greenwood Museum debuts new Chinese laundry exhibit

The new exhibit reflects a staple business of the city from more than 100 years ago

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read