Rapid Testing and Visitation Update
On December 31, the Provincial Health Officer announced that visits to long-term care homes would be limited to essential visitors only. This was to limit the spread of the Omicron variant and to relieve pressures on staff. Yesterday, she confirmed that in line with the rollout of rapid testing in long-term care, every resident would also be allowed one single designated social visitor. This must be the same person at every visit, but can be in addition to any essential visitors listed in the care plan.
In practice, this means that once your site has received rapid tests and set up a testing program (as per the letter to operators here), social visitation can begin. Visitors must be tested every day that they enter the site, but not multiple times per day if they come and go from the site. Written guidance and Q&A confirming this is expected to be published this week.
Deliveries of rapid tests from the province have begun and will continue this week. The Ministry of Health hopes that deliveries will have reached all long-term care sites by the end of this week. You do not need to do anything to request these; to begin with, they are being proactively sent out across BC. The number of tests each site will initially receive will be based on its size.
If you are a home care or assisted/independent living operator and would like to use rapid testing as an additional workplace safety measure, you can continue to access these by emailing RapidPOCTeam@phsa.ca.