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Hugs allowed again: B.C. long-term care visitor rules expanded

Last Updated Apr 1, 2021 at 11:50 am PDT

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Summary

If you've been longing to hug a loved one in long-term care in B.C., you'll be able to do so starting Thursday

Rules still in place for people wanting to visit someone in long-term care, including use of PPE and booking time

Long-term care residents can now welcome up to two adult visitors at a time, plus a child

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As of Tuesday, if you have a loved one in long-term care in B.C. you can officially hug them and hold hands.

COVID-19 rules around visitors have been relaxed, allowing up to two adults plus a child into a resident’s room, as long as they are masked and have properly washed their hands. The two-metre distancing rule is also gone.

Jeanette Harper has an 90-year-old mother in care in Nanaimo is excited for the change.

“We’ve been waiting for months to get some kind of notice that there was going to be a change. The seniors’ advocate made the recommendations back in November to allow two designated visitors in, but those recommendations were ignored. It’s been a long time coming and we’re thrilled.

She says the changes mean her mom can now see her grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the first time in a year.

“There’s a lot of family that have not seen their loved one except through a window or through a Zoom or FaceTime call for a year. A lot of loved ones have not been out. Think of being locked in your home for a year, that’s how it’s been for most residents,” she added.

“If you are planning to visit your family member or friend, please remember that COVID-19 safety plans must continue to be followed, including wearing masks and staying away if you feel unwell,” reads a joint statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

For her part, Harper admits she is still a little nervous.

“Bonnie Henry did say if there is an outbreak at any of the facilities, there’ll be a lockdown again, which does mean … our loved ones again isolated in their own rooms. We didn’t want the doors fully swung open for anyone to come in. So, we are glad that all facilities will still be taking big precautions.”

Make sure you book an appointment ahead of time. People will be allowed to spend time together in residents’ rooms without a staff member present.

Before new rules took effect on April 1, only certain long-term care residents were allowed to have one designated person.

Henry has warned that with the relaxing of visitation rules at these facilities, it is likely we will see more outbreaks in these homes. However, she says “we’re at a point where the benefits of having those social connections and interactions outweigh the risks.”

“And we know that we can manage those risks with the vast majority of residents and staff now being protected with immunizations,” she said.