Long-term care homes to ease restrictions in line with Roadmap to Reopen

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The province is making changes to enhance long-term residents’ quality of life in line with the move to Step Two of the government’s Roadmap to Reopen plan.

Working with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and based on feedback from residents, their families, and other partners, the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s website and guidance document have been updated to set out the following:

  • Residents can have outdoor visits of up to 10 people.
  • All residents may have up to two general visitors and two caregivers for an indoor visit.
  • Personal care services can resume.
  • Cohorting of residents can be relaxed during outdoor activities.

The changes will take effect Wednesday, Jul. 7, 2021.

“As we cautiously and safely reopen the province, no one deserves to enjoy the reopening more than long-term care residents, their families and the staff,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care. “As we head into summer, long-term care residents will be able to spend more time with their friends and families thanks to the efforts of people across Ontario rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated.”

As of June 28, 2021, it is estimated that, across Ontario, virtually all long-term care residents are fully immunized and 92 per cent of staff have received at least their first dose, with approximately 84 per cent having two doses, according to a release from the province.

Other recent updates since the initial release of the Roadmap to Reopen include:

  • Close physical contact is now permitted between fully immunized residents and fully immunized general visitors and brief hugs are permitted for all visitors and residents regardless of vaccination status.
  • Short-term and temporary absences are permitted for fully immunized residents.

As well, there is no longer a limit on the number of people who can be designated as a caregiver by a resident or their substitute decision-maker, according to the release.

A further easing of restrictions is planned to align with the timing of Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen. These changes are expected to include:

  • Removing the limits on the number of visitors to the homes
  • Permitting buffet and family style dinning
  • Providing that all residents will be able to go on absences regardless of immunization status
  • Resumption of off-site excursions for residents
  • Resumption of activities such as singing and dancing

All Ontarians, including all staff, visitors, and residents in long-term care homes, must continue to follow public health measures including masking, physical distancing (with specified exceptions), hand hygiene, and staying at home when they are sick. The province said they continue to actively monitor COVID-19 activity, particularly in this vulnerable sector. According to the release, the health and safety of residents and staff and all others who attend homes, including their mental and emotional wellbeing, remains their top priority.

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