Ontario to resume family visits in long-term care and retirement homes

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At a June 11 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed additional measures to help cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the Ontario government announced the gradual resumption of visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes and other residential care settings, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Today’s (June 11) announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Beginning on June 18, family and friends will be allowed to visit long-term care homes, retirement homes and other residential homes with certain regulations.

Long-term care homes will allow outdoor visits of one person per resident each week at a minimum.

Retirement homes will resume indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas or resident suites when physical distancing is possible.

Other residential care settings will be able to allow outdoor visits of two people at a time, but physical distancing will be required for all visits. 

This approach will ensure the health and safety of residents, staff and visitors.

Thanks to the hard work of our frontline workers and the collective efforts of everyone in stopping the spread, we can now allow families to reunite with their loved ones safely and in-person with strict public health measures to protect residents, visitors and staff,” said Premier Ford.

But I ask everyone to be cautious and act responsibly as the battle to contain COVID-19 is not over and the risk to our loved ones still remains.”

Visits will resume next Thursday, June 18, a week after the visitor guidelines have been released.

They will be subject to strict health and safety protocols, which include requiring visitors to pass active screening each time they visit, confirming with staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks and complying with the infection prevention and control protocols.

This also includes bringing and wearing a face covering during visits.

Additionally, long-term care and retirement homes, as well as other residential care settings, must meet certain conditions before they welcome visitors.

These conditions are that homes must not be in outbreak, they must have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and the associated safety procedures and must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.

For retirement homes, visitor admissions will vary from home to home depending upon their individual circumstances.

We know the visitor restrictions have been tough on residents, as families and loved ones play an important role in providing care and emotional support to residents. We are confident these visits can occur safely,” said Minister Fullerton.

With the possible spread of COVID-19 in our long-term care homes still being a real threat, people will need to follow strict health and safety protocols in order to protect our most vulnerable.”

Under similar regulations, other residential care settings will also be allowed for visitors.

They include homes serving people with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and children’s residential settings.

We are all looking forward to the day when we can once again see family and friends, and spend time together,” said Minister Smith. “Today is an important first step in reconnecting loved ones who have been separated all spring.”

As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves in the province of Ontario, the direction on visits at long-term care homes, retirement homes and residential settings will continually be updated to keep the safety and emotional wellbeing of residents and staff at the forefront.

Visits have been restricted since mid-March, with only essential visitors permitted to enter long-term care and retirement homes.

Photo credits: The Canadian Press

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