Charting a Course for Safe Visitation in Long-term Care

June 30, 2020 | News, COVID-19

In response to changes announced today by the Provincial Health Officer on visitation in long-term care and assisted living, SafeCare BC, in collaboration with Family Caregivers of British Columbia, is proposing a standardized solution that will facilitate family and friends in supporting loved ones in care, while addressing concerns around safety for residents and workers.

“Everyone recognizes the vital role family members and loved ones play in the well-being of our seniors living in care, and we are pleased to see the changes in visitation announced today,” says Jen Lyle, CEO, SafeCare BC. “We are ready to implement a free and easy-to-access program that gives long-term care providers, workers and residents confidence in knowing that family members and friends coming to a care home have a basic understanding of health and safety practices.”

This approach provides a roadmap for a voluntary, province-wide program that addresses key safety issues linked to visitation—an approach that would continue to show BC as a leader in Canada’s pandemic response.

With the support of the continuing care sector, SafeCare BC and Family Caregivers of BC are proposing that family members or friends wanting to support their loved ones in a care home, as permitted by the care home’s safety plan and regional public health direction, would become “COVID-competent” by taking three basic orientation modules, printing off a record of completion and then completing a site-specific safety orientation at the care home.

These modules—COVID-19 – Protecting Yourself, Personal Protective Equipment, Infection Prevention and Control—would be made free and accessible to anyone in BC with access to the internet, and together would take no longer than an hour to complete.

“Family members and friends play an important role in the physical and psychological health of their loved ones. The COVID pandemic has made this more challenging,” says Barb MacLean, Executive Director, Family Caregivers of British Columbia. “We are pleased to collaborate with SafeCare BC on this initiative, because it will benefit family and friend caregivers who want to support loved ones in care homes and at home.”

This plan provides a pathway forward to facilitate family presence in long-term care homes as permitted under current public health guidance, while reducing the orientation burden on care organizations, which are already under significant strain, and enable organizations to instead focus on site-specific instructions versus going over the basics of infection prevention and control.

SafeCare BC has the benefit of six years of engagement with BC’s continuing care sector. During that time, we have built a solid reputation among continuing care providers as a trusted source of information and education.