September 7, 2022COVID-19 / NewsAfter a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, Health Canada has determined that the bivalent Moderna Spikevax booster is safe and effective. Clinical trial results showed that a booster dose of the bivalent Moderna Spikevax vaccine triggers a strong immune response against both Omicron (BA.1) and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus strain. It was also found to generate a good immune response against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, and is expected to extend the durability of protection. Further information can be found here.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has released the following recommendation for use of the new bivalent vaccine:
Individuals under 12 years of age who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should be offered a fall COVID-19 vaccine booster dose regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.
All other individuals 12 to 64 years of age may be offered a fall COVID-19 booster dose regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.
Authorized dose of a bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be offered as a booster dose to the authorized age groups (under 18 years of age). If the bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is not readily available, an original mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to ensure timely protection.
Authorized dose of a bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to adolescents 12 to 17 years of age with moderately to severely immunocompromising conditions and/or who have biological or social risk factors that place them at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.
Further information on these recommendations can be found here:
NACI Recommendations on the use of bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (canada.ca) [...]Read more...
April 5, 2022COVID-19 / NewsOn April 5, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the province’s plan to introduce a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine for those most at risk. The spring booster program will be targeted at the following groups:
Residents in long-term care and assisted living of any age.
Community-dwelling seniors over the age of 70.
The clinically extremely vulnerable.
Indigenous people over the age of 55.
Individuals in these groups will be eligible for the spring booster six months after their third dose. Home and community workers may want to let their clients know they will be eligible for a fourth dose soon, and offer assistance booking an appointment or getting to a local pharmacy for their vaccine.
Note: The fourth booster dose is NOT intended for the general population, including those working in healthcare. Healthcare workers are, however, eligible for the third booster dose.
For more information on booster doses, see this poster. Consider printing it and sharing it in your organization! [...]Read more...
March 18, 2022COVID-19 / NewsThe Provincial Health Officer announced last Thursday that as the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the province continues to decrease, social visitation will be re-opening in long-term care. This will take place March 18—although homes are free to open back up before then if they are ready.
The Ministry of Health has published updated guidance for operators on how this will work. The key points are:
Core elements of infection prevention and control remain in place, including hand hygiene, screening for symptoms, and mask-wearing in all communal spaces. Vaccination requirements for visitors remain in place.
Masks no longer need to be worn for visits in single-occupancy rooms (provided the visitors are fully vaccinated).
Visitors 12 and older still need to test negative using a rapid antigen test before they enter the home. This can now be done on-site or in the community up to 48 hours before a visit. Long-term care homes can provide visitors with rapid tests to take in the community and test prior to arriving at the site, however each care home may maintain their own procedure for this.
You can find the full guidance document here.
Access to rapid tests through the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA)
There have also been some recent changes to the PHSA rapid testing program which may make it easier for home care operators to use rapid antigen tests with their staff:
At-home self-testing is now permitted; individuals taking rapid tests are no longer required to be observed or tested by a trained individual
Symptomatic testing is also now permitted
You can find more information on rapid testing here.
Resources to support you through the changes
Safety Huddle: Responding to Visitor Emotions: a safety huddle intended to support staff deal empathetically and calmly with visitors who may have a strong emotional response to being away from their loved one for some time.
COVID-19: Social Visitation Essentials – Online Course: a free online course developed by SafeCare BC and the Family Caregivers of BC intended to provide visitors with an understanding of measures that should be taken to protect those who are living and working in the care setting.
BC Centre of Disease Control Visitor Guidance: Posters and guidance documents for long-term care homes including visitation guidance, infection prevention and control measures, and outbreak management. [...]Read more...
March 16, 2022COVID-19 / NewsWhile some provincial COVID-19 restrictions, such as social visitation in long-term care, are lifted, other infection prevention and control measures remain in place. Hand hygiene, screening for symptoms and appropriate PPE use are still important ways we can continue to keep care settings safe and healthy for staff.
SafeCare BC has a range of resources to support members to understand and implement the most up-to-date infection prevention and control guidance. Our updated Hierarchy of Controls guidance for home and community care and long-term care give an overview of these measures.
Respirators (e.g. N95s) also remain a key layer of protection for staff when there is an increased risk of airborne transmission. The BCCDC advises that staff should be able to access an N95 if they deem it necessary following a Point of Care Risk Assessment. Staff using N95s need to be fit-tested. See here for SafeCare BC resources and training on respirator fit-testing.
Check out our Respirator Protection Policy Template and program template for more information. [...]Read more...
March 10, 2022News / COVID-19Earlier today, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced new changes to visitation in long-term care and assisted living. Here’s what you need to know:
On March 18, social visitation in long-term care and assisted living will be expanded to allow further connection between residents and their families. Policies will be restored to what they were prior to the measurements introduced to protect against the omicron variant.
Protective measures such as mask-wearing, rapid tests, proof of vaccination, physical distancing, and hand washing will remain in place.
Operators have been asked to communicate their plans on restoring visitation with their families over the next week, as this may include visits being planned or spaced out to accommodate staffing levels.
These changes are resulting from the steady downward trend BC’s COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations are showing.
While Dr. Henry is optimistic the spring and summer months will be calm, there is a recognition we will need to be prepared to deal with and adapt to what the virus does next—particularly when we reach the fall. SafeCare BC will continue to provide you with the information you need to stay informed. [...]Read more...
January 25, 2022COVID-19 / NewsSafeCare BC Saleema Dhalla has been busy the past week speaking to local media about the importance of rapid testing in protecting against COVID-19. Check out these stories below:
Vancouver Sun Article: Care home providers concerned public health not doing enough to protect seniors
CFAX 1070 Interview: The importance of using Rapid Tests as a protection tool against COVID-19 [...]Read more...
January 12, 2022COVID-19 / NewsOn Friday, January 7, the Provincial Health Officer announced that employers would need to bring back their pandemic safety plans under a new health order. The new health measure was announced as BC continues to manage a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The re-activation of the COVID-19 Safety Plan is a requirement that is in addition to the requirement to have an exposure control plan in place for communicable diseases
What is the difference between an Exposure Control Plan and a COVID-19 Safety Plan?
As a healthcare employer, you are required to have an exposure control plan for communicable diseases in place. This describes how staff will be protected from infectious diseases in the work environment. It includes information on the nature of the hazards and the risks associated with exposure, as well as controls, such as safe work procedures that are implemented to protect staff. Elements of an exposure control plan are listed in section 5.54 and section 6.34(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
The COVID-19 Safety Plan is a formal, written plan that includes measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. It includes more specific protocols for preventing COVID-19 transmission such as occupancy limits, physical distancing, and barriers. The COVID-19 Safety Plan should be posted in the workplace so that it is readily available for review.
What should employers do?
Many operators had COVID-19 Safety Plans earlier in the pandemic. All employers are advised to review their COVID-19 Safety Plans with the involvement and participation of workers to ensure they are current and align with guidance and orders from the provincial health officer.
SafeCare BC has several resources to assist with developing and updating your COVID-19 Safety Plan as well as your exposure control plan.
COVID-19 Safety Plan Templates
The templates below are word documents you can tailor to fit the needs of your workplace.
COVID-19 Safety Plan Template – Long Term Care
COVID-19 Safety Plan Template – Assisted Living
COVID-19 Safety Plan Template – Home Care
Please note these links will download a .zip file with a word document template inside.
Exposure Control Plan Resources
The Exposure Control Plan Template is designed to be modified based on the needs of your organization and includes links to resources including a risk assessment worksheet and a planning checklist. Download the Exposure Control Plan Template word document here.
The written order regarding COVID-19 Safety Plans has not yet been posted, once this has been posted you will be able to find more details here.
If you have any questions, contact Anna Richter at email@example.com. [...]Read more...
January 5, 2022COVID-19 / NewsOn 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. [...]Read more...
December 2, 2021COVID-19 / NewsThe BC Centre of Disease Control has updated its infection prevention and control guidance for home and community care workers. The key changes are:
There is no longer a requirement to wear eye protection for all client care. The decision to wear eye protection is now based on a point-of-care risk assessment.
If you are providing care to people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should still take droplet and contact precautions. This includes eye protection, as well as a medical mask, gloves and gown.
Healthcare workers should also feel able to request any PPE they deem necessary following a point-of-care risk assessment.
Home and community care workers, clients, and household members, should wherever possible keep enough physical distance that everyone feels comfortable.
Before each appointment, home and community care workers and clients must self-screen for symptoms and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases (for example influenza).
Medical masks are still required for home and community care workers providing care, but not for clients receiving care in their own home. Any household members involved in the provision of care should wear a medical mask when they are close to the home care worker or client.
Check out these additional home care infection prevention resources:
Point of Care Assessment Cards for COVID
Home Care Masking Poster (Ministry of Health)
Overview of Updates (Ministry of Health) [...]Read more...
November 9, 2021News / COVID-19Introducing the SafeCare BC podcast—an audio show discussing what’s going on in BC’s continuing care sector.
In the first episode, SafeCare BC’s Head of Vaccine Education and Engagement, Jenni Cannon, speaks with Augustine House’s Jackie Reiners and The Hamlet’s Hendrik Van Ryk to discuss vaccination in long-term care.
As leaders in the industry, Jackie and Hendrik provide an overview of their experience over the past year, as well as offer advice to others in the industry.
Download the podcast [...]Read more...
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