British Columbia expands long-term care visits, allowing one social visitor per resident


Residents of long-term care facilities in British Columbia are now allowed to have one social visitor each, whether or not there is a COVID-19 outbreak in their home.

This visitor will not need to be an approved “designated essential” visitor, and residents who already have a designated essential visitor can still have another social visitor.

“Yes, you can have a backup in case you can’t go, but one at a time, making sure we have that very important connection with at least one more person,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

“What remains unchanged is that these visitors must be fully vaccinated themselves.”

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About 40% of COVID-19 deaths in January 2022 in British Columbia are linked to long-term care outbreaks

It’s a change that industry advocates and families of residents of long-term care facilities have long called for.

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About two-thirds of residents of long-term care facilities in British Columbia do not have a designated essential visitor, meaning they could not have visitors during waves of the pandemic that limited visits to only essential visitors.

This measure came into effect late last year when the Omicron variant swept through British Columbia, but the “one size fits all” approach to managing the long-term care pandemic is no longer necessary, Henry said.

“As certain measures continue to apply, we are adjusting this approach to managing epidemics, reflecting very high levels of transmission, but much less severity for most people due to this high level of protection we have thanks vaccination and short-term protection by people. who have been infected now,” she explained.

The new visitor guidelines will appear on the BC Center for Disease Control’s website later Tuesday.

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Ongoing concerns over COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes

Ongoing concerns over COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes

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The province is also changing its strategy for reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes to reflect the high vaccination rates of residents and staff, as well as the communicability and severity of Omicron disease.

Medical officers of health can now declare an outbreak in a facility in their area on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the presence of severe, symptomatic illness, rather than following the “prescriptive criteria” of previous waves.

Previously, medical officers of health needed evidence of viral transmission within the facility, as well as a single positive case in a resident or multiple cases in a staff member, among other indicators.

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“It’s about finding that balance to find out if there are a few cases, but there’s not a lot of transmission,” Henry explained. “You can now isolate these people very effectively because so many people are vaccinated and because we have these other measures in place.”

If there’s more transmission, there’s more serious disease, and medical officers aren’t sure how it’s spreading, they may take a closer look at declaring an outbreak, she added.

During this time, long-term care homes will continue to observe strict health and safety measures, including vaccinations, use of personal protective equipment, contact tracing and quarantine if necessary. .

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