Updated directive pauses absences to protect residents and staff
TORONTO — The Ontario government is adding to the precautions taken last week to protect residents and staff in the province’s long-term care homes.
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, effective October 16 and until further notice, short-term and temporary absences for social or personal reasons will not be allowed at long-term care homes in areas of the province where there is higher community spread of COVID-19. Only absences for medical or compassionate reasons will be allowed.
The communities where these restrictions apply are:
- City of Ottawa
- Region of Peel
- City of Toronto
“We recognize these changes may be difficult for the residents and families affected,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “But our priority has to be the safety and well-being of the residents and staff in Ontario’s long-term care homes.”
A complete list of homes affected has been posted online. The province will update the list as the areas with higher community spread change. People planning a visit to a long-term care home are advised to contact the home in advance, to make sure the home is free of outbreaks and to get information on the home’s visitor policy and any restrictions.
Direction on safety in long-term care homes will continue to be updated as Ontario’s experience with COVID-19 evolves. The government will continue to make every effort to support the safety and emotional wellbeing of residents and the staff who care for them.
- Today’s changes take effect 48 hours after the release of the updated Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007.
- On October 5, the province announced updates to its visitor policy that address areas where there is higher community spread of COVID-19. As of October 7, essential visitors, including caregivers are the only visitors allowed in long-term care homes in the affected communities.
- Caregivers are essential visitors who provide direct care to residents, such as helping with feeding, mobility, hygiene, or cognitive stimulation. They can be family members or friends, privately hired caregivers, paid companions and/or translators. Each resident and/or their substitute decision maker may designate a maximum of two caregivers. However, only one caregiver at a time may visit a home in an area with higher community spread.
- All visitors to long-term care homes are required to follow public health measures (including active screening, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masking for source control) during their visits.
- Caregivers must attest to having a negative COVID-19 test within the previous fourteen days, without a subsequent positive test.
- All visitors must wear surgical/procedure masks inside long-term care homes. Essential visitors are also required to wear additional personal protective equipment for interactions with residents who are self-isolating, suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.