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Province of British Columbia
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2020
Ministry of Health
Investments mean safer visits at long-term care, seniors’ facilities

VICTORIA – The Province is investing in a suite of initiatives to protect long-term care and seniors’ assisted-living residents from COVID-19, as facilities begin allowing visitors.

“British Columbians flattened the curve through individual actions and a commitment to look out for each other – our families, friends and neighbours,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “That commitment has come with many sacrifices, especially from our seniors and Elders who have been separated from their loved ones. That’s why throughout this pandemic, we are have sought to continually improve our long-term care and seniors’ assisted living operations, to make them safer for residents and those who care for them. Each of us must continue to be completely committed to combatting this virus for these historic investments to be effective.”

Residents will begin to be able to have a single designated visitor in a specific visiting area. This approach will be monitored through July, with an aim to expand it in August.

“We know how important it is for our family members in long-term care to receive visits from family, friends and supporters. We also know that's a risk when we have COVID-19 in the community,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “Once long-term care homes have plans in place and they’re taking the extra precautions needed, I’m so happy to say that we can safely move towards allowing visitors again.”

Updated provincial requirements will ease the current visitor restrictions for long-term care homes and seniors’ assisted living residences with clear guidance on required precautions. Each facility must develop written plans outlining how they will meet the requirements.

Visitation requirements for long-term care home and seniors’ assisted living facilities include:

  • Visitation in individual facilities can resume once they have their required written safety plan in place.
  • Once in place, residents will be able to have one designated visitor in appropriate designated spaces.
  • Designated spaces will include outdoor or indoor locations; and
  • all visitors must bring and appropriately wear masks.

Essential visitor restrictions remain in place for other health-care settings.

In addition, personal service providers, including hairdressers, will be able to come into long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities if they have completed a WorkSafeBC safety plan.

The Province is providing more than $160 million for facilities to hire up to three full-time equivalent staff in each of B.C.’s 680 long-term care homes and seniors’ assisted living residences, including both public and private facilities. This could total as many as 2,040 additional staff dedicated to ensuring infection prevention and control measures for COVID-19 are followed to support safe visitation. 

“These investments are an investment in our province’s safety and health,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox and Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors. “We’re showing the world that through careful consideration, we can connect families to their loved ones in care homes safely during what has become an extremely challenging time for the world. This is great news for British Columbians, and together, we are leading the way.”

The additional staff will also work to schedule visits and make sure visitors do not enter the facility if they are sick, wash their hands frequently, practise respiratory (cough) etiquette and maintain a safe physical distance of at least two metres from patients and staff wherever possible.

The Province will also provide $26.5 million for facilities to address costs that they incurred between March 1 and June 30, 2020, including:

  • additional screening so only those approved to enter facilities do so;
  • costs incurred due to sick time and self-isolation;
  • costs for changes to services, i.e., delivering meals to rooms or staggering meal times to ensure physical distancing, additional housekeeping and enhanced cleaning; and
  • infection prevention and control costs. 

In April 2020, the Province partnered with the BC Care Providers Association to launch EquipCare BC. EquipCare BC is a new program that will provide $10 million to enhance infection prevention and control and improve quality and safety in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living homes throughout the province.

During the pandemic, supporting seniors has remained a key element of government’s response. In April, using orders under the Public Health Act and Emergency Program Act, the Province implemented a process to support workers to work at a single facility. This includes the development of a new labour agreement that ensures all workers at health authority, non-profit and private facilities receive an equitable wage and have their work hours scheduling stabilized so they can work at a single site without disrupting services for residents. The expected total cost of the program in 2020-21 is approximately $10 million to $15 million a month, funded by the Province.

Learn More:

For the updated guidance for long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities, visit BC Centre for Disease Control’s website:

A backgrounder follows.

Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

Province of British Columbia
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2020
Ministry of Health
Guidelines to protect residents, workers and visitors at care homes

In March 2020, the Ministry of Health required all long-term care and seniors’ assisted living operators in B.C. to restrict visitors to essential visits only to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The new requirements issued on June 30, 2020, will allow for family and social visits when facility operators have a written plan to ensure:

  • There is no active COVID-19 outbreak at the care home or residence.
  • Social visits are scheduled in advance between the visitor and facility.
  • There is a maximum of one designated close family or friend per resident, if sufficient space exists to ensure physical distancing requirement.
  • Residents will meet their visitor in the designated location. The three key locations are:
    • outdoor locations dedicated to visiting when the weather permits;
    • indoor designated locations; and,
    • individual single-client room for residents with limited mobility.
  • There is clear signage to help families and residents to have a safe and successful visit.
  • Screening for symptoms of illness, including COVID- 19, occurs prior to every visit.
  • Visitors are instructed when to perform hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and safe physical distancing.
  • Visitors must bring and wear a mask.
  • Visitors are instructed on how to put on and remove any required personal protective equipment when visiting or caring for residents who have respiratory symptoms.
  • Visitors go directly to the person they are visiting and exit the facility directly after their visit.
  • There are adequate numbers of designated staff to provide pre-screening, screening on arrival, provide information on infection prevention and control for the visit, monitor the visit and monitor leaving of the residence.
  • All furniture and surfaces in the visit area are sanitized at the end of each visit. Time should be allowed for sanitizing visitor areas and supporting residents to move to and from the visiting area between visits.
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

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