This communication was sent out to families this afternoon. We will be further studying how to implement these changes by the September 9th deadline. Nursing Supervisors and RCMs will be providing more details closer to Wednesday of next week. Please note that, once again, these changes were just announced and we will need a few days to ensure that we have all of the necessary points understood and covered .
Last evening (September 2, 2020), the Ministry of Long Term Care (MOLTC) released another updated COVID-19 Visiting Policy for LTC homes to their website.
The Province had recently erased safety restrictions on Residents’ movement. That was a layer of added risk that I feel was implemented too early, with public and post-secondary schools opening, as we have no way of measuring how the increased interaction of individuals, related to education, will increase the danger of our Residents contracting COVID-19.
The updated visiting policy for Homes goes many steps further and increases the amount of interactions between Residents and possible carriers of the coronavirus. As has been mentioned in previous emails, I fully respect how difficult it has been for family members since the middle of March, when face to face contact with loved ones was cut off. However, we are entering a phase of the pandemic for which we have no guideposts. When it was possible to wait until the education system had been operating for 2-3 weeks, I feel it would have been far more responsible to learn from the epidemiological evidence and plan further steps accordingly.
We are sending this information release out now, in the interest of transparency. As you can imagine, implementing these changes will take some time to organize and ensure that they are safely executed. We will not be recording the names of Designated Caregivers, as decided by Residents or their Substitute Decision Makers (SDMs), until the effective date of Wednesday September 9th, 2020.
As of Wednesday, September 9, 2020, the following are key areas of importance regarding changes to visitor guidelines:
Clarification on Visitors
The document provides clarification on the various types of visitors as follows:
- Designated Caregivers – Caregivers are defined as a type of essential visitor who is designated by the resident and/or their substitute decision-maker and is visiting to provide direct care to the resident. A maximum of two caregivers may be designated per resident at a time. The decision to designate an individual as a caregiver is entirely the responsibility of the resident and/or their substitute decision-makers. Designated Caregivers do not need to make appointments to visit and can travel to a Resident’s room. No visitors are allowed to visit other Residents while they are here and are not allowed to attend any other areas of Fairhaven. At no point is a “Designated Caregiver” allowed to take off any required PPE.
- Volunteers and Placement Students – These individuals are not considered visitors and are not subject to the COVID-19 Visiting Policy. The licensee determines volunteer and student access to LTC homes, and screening and PPE requirements should align with those for staff.
- General visitors younger than 14 should be accompanied by an adult and must follow all IPAC precautions that are in place at the home.
The updated policy still requires any visitor (including essential visitors, support workers and caregivers) visiting indoors to verbally attest to home staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks and subsequently not tested positive. However, the following are the changes introduced with respect to screening:
- Caregivers and general visitors must verbally attest to the home that in the last 14 days they have not visited a resident who is self-isolating or symptomatic and/or a home in an outbreak.
- Homes are advised to ask caregivers and general visitors to verbally attest to the home that they have read the home’s new visitor policy and should be asked this at least once every month thereafter.
- Prior to visiting any resident for the first time after this policy is released, the home should provide training to caregivers that addresses how to safely provide direct care, including putting on and taking off PPE as well as hand hygiene. The home should also provide retraining to caregivers with the frequency of retraining indicated in the home’s visitor policy.
- Homes may not require the following visitors to verbally attest to a negative COVID-19 result:
- Government inspectors
- A person who is visiting a very ill or palliative resident
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Homes are responsible for providing surgical/procedure masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection (i.e., face shield or goggles) for essential visitors
- If a visitor is unable to wear the required PPE, the visitor should not be permitted to have close physical contact (i.e., less than two metres) with a resident.
The updated policy continues to encourage general visitors and residents to practice physical distancing for the duration of their visit. However, visitors who have passed all screening requirements, including having verbally attested to not testing positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, could engage in close physical contact (i.e., less than two metres) with a resident to support their emotional well-being and/or communication provided the visitor wears a surgical/procedure mask (regardless if the visit is indoor or outdoor) as source control.
PLEASE PLACE IN COMMUNICATION BINDERS
Please consider all Fairhaven COVID-19 Employee Bulletins to be official notifications of consultation with the Fairhaven Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee.