Changes to restrictions on visitation in long-term care and assisted living: what does this mean for staff?

July 16, 2021 | News

The province has announced that from July 19, they will be easing restrictions on visitation in long-term care and assisted living, as well as making some changes to infection prevention and control policies based on the vaccination status of individuals. SafeCare BC has been working with the Ministry of Health to understand exactly what this means for staff in the sector.


Key Safety Questions:
Do I have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if I work in long-term care?
It is strongly encouraged that everyone working in long-term care gets vaccinated. It is not mandatory in BC for care and support staff to be vaccinated, but employers have been asked by public health to share the Personal Health Numbers (PHNs) of staff. They will use this information to build their understanding of site-by-site vaccination levels.
If a staff member cannot demonstrate they are fully vaccinated, they will be required to continue wearing a mask and eye protection at all times.
Note: ‘fully vaccinated’ means you had your second dose at least 14 days ago.
How do I prove I’m fully vaccinated?
For now, employers should accept documentation, such as the cards or paper records issued at immunization sites, or the BC Health gateway.
What about home care staff?
The announcements made last week apply only to long term care and assisted living settings. We expect more information to follow this month on changes for the home care sector.
Home care staff working in care homes — for example providing companionship services or foot care — are considered to be personal service providers. The province has said that all personal service providers and volunteers working in long-term care homes must be fully vaccinated.
Do I still have to wear a mask at work if I’m fully vaccinated?
No. Those working in long-term care who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks or eye protection unless clinically indicated for individuals on precautions or based on their point-of-care assessment, or to protect against the normal hazards in their regular work. This also applies to contractors and personal service providers who are regularly at the site.
This does not mean people will be directed to take off masks; you can still wear PPE if you wish to do so.
Note: there are different rules on masking for visitors.
If I’m not fully vaccinated, will I have to take a rapid test before my shift?
The province has said that unvaccinated staff will be asked to undergo regular rapid testing. However, this does not have to be in place by July 19. More information will be available in the coming weeks about how care homes and assisted living residences can access these tests and implement rapid testing.
In the meantime, staff who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks and eye protection at work.
I’m fully vaccinated. Can I work at more than one care home after July 19?
The single site order is still in place for now. The province has announced it is working on a plan for fully vaccinated staff to be allowed to work across ‘clusters’ of care homes. We expect more information soon on what this will mean for you and care staff.