Information for families of people in long-term care and assisted living.
Last updated: September 25, 2021
Long-term care and assisted living visitation guidelines
Guidelines for visiting individuals living in long-term care and assisted living are as follows, effective September 1. You can read more on the BCCDC website, bccdc.ca.
- As a protective measure to reduce the risk for the introduction and spread of COVID-19, it is strongly recommended that visitors age 12 and older are fully immunized against COVID-19. Visitors will be asked to provide proof of vaccination prior to entering the site. If visitors don’t have their BC Vaccine Card, they can access their immunization records by registering for a Health Gateway;
- Visitors will also be screened for signs and symptoms of illness, including COVID-19, and asked to sign-in for contact tracing purposes, prior to entry at every visit.
While onsite, visitors need to adhere to all infection prevention control measures, including hand hygiene, physical distancing and use of medical masks;
- Fully immunized visitors (i.e., two doses with the second dose received a minimum of seven days prior) are required to wear a medical mask while moving in and through common areas of the facility, but are not required to wear a mask while in direct contact with the person they are visiting;
- Visitors who cannot demonstrate that they are fully immunized are required to wear a medical mask for the duration of their visit.
In addition, visitors to long-term care residents and assisted living tenants:
- Can have social visits without advance booking during the daily designated social visiting hours at the site;
- Can physically touch (e.g., hugs and hand-holding) with appropriate infection prevention and control measures in place (e.g., hand hygiene);
- Don’t have to be limited in number;
- May join their resident at outdoor events/gatherings at the site;
- Must be staggered when visiting occurs in a multi-bed room and when a resident cannot move to a designated visiting area; only visitors for one resident can be in the room at any one time.
In addition, volunteers who are not existing registered volunteers providing essential visit support may now resume their activities in long-term care and assisted living settings, if they are:
- Fully immunized against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination;
- Familiar with the responsibilities and expectations regarding outbreak prevention, detection, and management in the home.
In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak at a facility, only essential volunteers and essential visits will be permitted onsite.
What is an essential visit?
We continue to support visitors for essential visits. Examples of essential visits include, but are not limited to:
- Visits for compassionate care, including critical illness, palliative care, hospice care, end of life, and Medical Assistance in Dying.
Visits paramount to the resident’s physical care and mental well-being, including:
- Assistance with feeding, mobility and personal care;
- Communication assistance for persons with hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments;
- Assistance by designated representatives for persons with disabilities, including the provision of emotional support;
- Visits for supported decision making; and
- Visits for pediatric care, labour and delivery.
- Existing registered volunteers providing the services described above.
- Visits required to move belongings in or out of a client’s room.
- Police, correctional officers and peace officers accompanying a patient/resident for security reasons.
Essential visits can occur with a COVID-positive resident.
Essential visits are limited to one visitor per resident within the facility at a time. A visitor who is a child may be accompanied by one parent, guardian or family member.
If you feel your situation warrants an essential visit, please discuss your request with your loved one’s care team. The care team will balance your request with the patient’s/resident’s needs, along with the infection prevention/control requirements of the other residents in the unit.
Dropping off essential items for residents
If essential items need to be dropped off for a resident, please arrange this in advance with their care team.
How this is done will depend on the individual facility and the team caring for the patients.
Hairdressing and other personal services
To help ensure the safety of residents, the following criteria must be met for personal services to be offered within long term care or seniors’ assisted living facilities:
- All service providers must follow the WorkSafeBC protocols for personal services returning to operation, including the development and submission of safety plans to the director of the facility/residence; and
- Facility operators must keep a list of every resident who has received services and when these services are provided.
While residents are not restricted from accessing services outside of their residence, allowing personal services to be provided by a single service provider within a facility is a safer option for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission than having residents go out into the community for these services (where you may have multiple residents visiting different service providers).
Infection prevention and control
COVID-19 health and safety measures
The health and safety of our residents, their families and our staff is our first priority and a responsibility that is taken very seriously. We continue to follow directions from public health officials and other clinical experts regarding the best infection prevention and control measures to take to avoid transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
Some of the measures we have put in place are:
- A redesign of meal service spaces to provide at least two metres of space between residents; meal services brought to rooms;
- Limiting the numbers of participants and personal contact during recreational and common area activities; providing one-to-one activity as appropriate;
- Ensuring twice-daily screening & ongoing monitoring of staff and residents for any signs of illness;
- Enhancing our daily cleaning practices;
- Ensuring that staff wear a procedure mask that covers their mouth and nose, eye protection and other personal protective equipment as recommended;
- Observing outbreak prevention and outbreak management measures as required.
A COVID-19 outbreak is declared by the Medical Health Officer when there is one or more positive case (resident/tenant or staff) identified along with evidence of transmission. When there is a single, low risk case of COVID with no evidence of transmission at a site (i.e. a COVID-19 exposure), an outbreak will not be declared and the facility will be placed on enhanced monitoring.
A list of infectious disease outbreaks (e.g. COVID-19, C. difficile, norovirus, influenza) declared at long-term care, assisted living and independent living sites within the Fraser Health region is available on our Current Outbreaks page.
Notifications of outbreaks
In the unfortunate situation when an outbreak is identified at a site, the Public Health team will contact the staff member who is infected as well as the care home and residents as appropriate. Long-term care residents and assisted living tenants and their family members will be notified by e-mail/phone.
Advance care planning
Talking with your loved ones about their future health care wishes and what’s important to them is a good idea for everyone, no matter their age or health status. In some cases where your loved one may be unable to engage in such discussions, having these conversations within your own family will be very important.
Appreciating how uncomfortable it can be to have this conversation with a loved one, we have resources to help you on our Advance Care Planning page, fraserhealth.ca/ACP.
You may have already heard from the care team or family doctor offering to have COVID-19-related goals of care discussions with you. These resources can help you understand why these conversations are important and to ensure your loved one’s values and wishes, and preferences for care, are expressed, documented and respected.
Questions and concerns
If you feel your situation warrants an essential visit, please discuss your request with your loved one’s care team. The care team will balance your request with the patient’s needs, along with the infection prevention/control requirements of the other patients in the unit.
If your visit is not deemed essential, you may speak with an administrator or administrator on call for an immediate review of the decision.
Family and visitors can request a formal review of a decision through the health authority Patient Care Quality Office (PCQO). You can contact them by phone at 1-877-880-8823 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have already been to the PCQO and are not satisfied, you can request a review of concerns from the Patient Care Quality Review Board by email: email@example.com or phone: 1-866-952-2448. Learn more.
Orders from the Provincial Health Officer or a Medical Health Officer take precedence over essential visitor policy.
- Guidelines for Essential and Social Visitors for Long-Term Care and Seniors’ Assisted Living Facilities poster
- Ministry of Health - Overview of Visitors in Long-Term Care and Seniors’ Assisted Living