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Allow family visits at care homes, B.C. providers ask

Last Updated Jun 18, 2020 at 2:00 pm PST

FILE - A staff member at the Langley Lodge has tested positive for the virus. (Source: Google Maps)

B.C. Care Providers Association provides plan to allow family visits at care homes

Plans not intended to compromise workplace safety or affect direct care

Care providers are now asking for funding to increase staffing levels to manage visitations

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — The organization representing many of B.C.’s long-term care and assisted-living operators asked the province Thursday to allow family members to visit with their loved ones in such facilities, with measures to mitigate risks.

The B.C. Care Providers Association provided a three-point plan to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, intended to not compromise workplace safety or impact care.

“B.C. has set itself apart by bending the curve on the infection rate of COVID-19,” Mike Klassen, acting CEO of the BC Care Providers Association, says in a release.

“We credit, in part, swift action by Dr. Bonnie Henry to end non-essential visits to our care homes last spring. But after being disconnected from their loved ones for several months, residents and families are demanding that we find a way to reinstate visits at care homes.”

Care providers are now asking for funding to increase staffing levels to manage visitations and scheduling.

READ ALSO: 19 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., two new health-care facility outbreaks

Additional resources are required to ensure there is an adequate supply of protective equipment for use by visitors.

As well, care providers are asking for time to prepare staff to enhance health and safety protocols to accommodate the increased visits.

“We understand that families are anxious to see their loved ones, but opening up to visits cannot happen overnight,” says Klassen.

“Furthermore, care home operators will need support to ensure that visitors comply with basic safety procedures and the order. This will require clear direction and a mandate from Dr. Henry and the regional health authorities.”

In March, the association says it wrote Henry to request the end of non-essential visits to care homes and require that staff only work at a single site.

Both recommendations were subsequently enforced by provincial health orders.

“As B.C. faces the prospect of a second wave of the novel coronavirus, adds Klassen, “We can learn from our experiences so far, adopt new ways to keep those family connections in our care homes intact, while finding methods to address the workload challenges that are associated with the sector’s labour shortages.”

The province announced 19 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. on Wednesday, as well as two new health-care facility outbreaks.

The outbreaks were at Mission Memorial Hospital and Tabor Home in Abbotsford. The outbreak at the latter, an assisted and independent living facility, is tied to Mission Hospital, as is one from the previous day at the Maple Hill long-term care home.

Seven health-care facilities continue to have active outbreaks.

More than half of the deaths from COVID-19 in Canada are related to care homes.

Langley Lodge, a long-term care home, has had multiple COVID-19 outbreaks, which resulted in 24 deaths — the most at any one site in B.C. during the pandemic.

The first reported case of COVID-19 in B.C. was at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, where 20 residents died from the virus.