BC family ‘cautiously optimistic’ about lifting restrictions on long-term care visitors
For much of the pandemic, Danielle Noël was the only person allowed to visit her 89-year-old mother, Marion.
Marion lives in a long-term care home in Maple Ridge. Due to visiting restrictions, Noel was the only person allowed to celebrate her mother’s recent birthday with her, in person.
“Other family members are deprived of these visits. When family members are in long-term care or hospice, you don’t know if this will be your last visit with them, so you treasure each and every one of them. “said Noel.
But the rules for loved ones visiting long-term care facilities are changing, with the province announcing plans to lift restrictions.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said by March 18, most long-term care facilities should be ready to welcome more visitors, who must be fully vaccinated and tested for COVID. -19 when they enter.
Leslie Gaudette, president of the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC, says it’s about residents’ quality of life, and that’s something that has been lacking throughout the pandemic.
“It’s very hard. We know that the longer people are confined to their homes without visitors, the more their mental and physical health deteriorates,” Gaudette said.
Risk factor still of concern
Noel says that while she’s glad more relatives can visit her mother, she’s also concerned that more visitors to the facility will increase her mother’s risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
This concern, along with ongoing staffing shortages, is central to the concerns of the BC Care Providers Association.
President Terry Lake says visitors will still be required to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire about any symptoms they may have, show their vaccination card and take a quick test on site.
“So it’s not just about opening the doors and allowing three or four times as many visitors,” Lake said.
Staffing shortages at long-term care homes could also present challenges, Lake said.
“[Families] may have to schedule visits, not just bring people in on an ad hoc basis, due to screening and staffing challenges,” he said.
Regardless of potential challenges, Christmas is cautiously optimistic.
“I think we’re all hoping for more visits to come. That my sons can go see their grandma, hug her, kiss her and tell her in person that they love her.”