Across Canada, COVID-19 represents a significant risk to the residents of personal care homes (PCHs). Efforts to prevent, identify and contain outbreaks of COVID-19 are vital to protecting populations that are most vulnerable to serious outcomes from this virus. To date, efforts in Manitoba have been effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in PCHs.
Visitor restrictions, enhanced environmental cleaning, and disinfecting practices, daily staff screening before staff enter the workplace, adherence to provincial PPE requirements and the implementation of a single-site PCH staffing model have been sequential and escalating steps in the provincial response to COVID-19. Each preventive measure has involved significant consideration of the impact it would have on residents who live in PCHs.
We know that families are integral to the health, well-being, and quality of life of the residents in our care. As a result, we also recognize that balancing necessary preventive measures with maintaining the vital connections that residents have with family members is important as we move into the future. While our central priority is to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep our residents and staff safe, it is becoming increasingly apparent that COVID-19 will be part of the ‘new normal’ for an extended period of time. This requires us to find a longer-term balance between preventive measures and the benefits of accommodating greater interaction between residents and their families / friends.
The purpose of this letter is to, therefore, advise families that, effective June 1, 2020, we will be supporting on-site, outdoor visits at Holy Family Home in accordance with the following conditions:
- Outdoor visits will only be allowed in an area specifically designated by Holy Family Home for that purpose.
- ‘Essential visitors’ are those deemed essential to the emotional well-being, health, and quality of life of your loved one. In most cases, visitors should be close family and/or friends who have a clearly established pattern of involvement in providing care and support.
- All visits by essential visitors must be pre-booked. Appointments will not be booked more than two weeks in advance. Families may request an appointment by calling 204.589.7381 between normal business hours (9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, Monday to Thursday). Unscheduled outdoor visits will not be permitted.
- Scheduling personnel will provide a date and time to accommodate the request for an outdoor visit.
- Outdoor visits will be accommodated from 9:15 to 11:30 AM and 1:00 to 4:00 PM, Monday to Saturday.
- A maximum of two essential visitors per resident will be permitted at a time. A minor must be accompanied by an adult.
- The duration of the visit will be limited to 25 minutes.
- The number of visits allowed per family will be based on principles of fairness and equity in the allocation of visit dates and times.
- Upon arrival:
- Visitors should arrive at least 5 minutes prior to the scheduled outdoor visit in order to be appropriately screened by Holy Family Home.
- Visitors will be asked a series of questions and their temperature will be taken as part of the screening process. Restrictions will apply to visitors who have travelled outside Manitoba within the past 14 days. No visitor shall be permitted if they have cold/flu or other COVID-19 symptoms.
- Holy Family Home reserves the right to refuse entry to any person who does not meet the screening criteria.
- Visitors will be escorted to the designated outdoor area by Holy Family Home personnel, and must comply with Infection Prevention & Control measures. This includes strict hand hygiene and maintaining physical distancing (6 feet apart) at all times.
- Visitors are encouraged to wear their own protective masks. Visitors can choose to purchase a re-useable mask from Holy Family Home for a small donation.
- Due to the required infection control practices, food/beverages and items may not be brought during on-site outdoor visits.
- Access to on-site food/beverages and washroom facilities will not be available for visitors.
- We may not be able to facilitate outdoor visits for certain residents based on their medical status and our clinical judgment. Moreover, there may be situations where a resident is ill or unable to participate in a planned visit on a certain day.
- Holy Family Home reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel outdoor visits due to inclement weather, insufficient staff resources, or non-compliance of visitors.
- In the event of cancellations due to inclement weather or any other reason, Holy Family Home will make every effort to reschedule the family visit within a reasonable period of time, which will depend on the availability of visit times and dates.
- Pets are not permitted.
- Off-property visits are not permitted given the risk to residents and to the facility associated with unknown nature of contacts, exposure, and other related safety risks.
- All visits, including outdoor visits, may be suspended at any time in the case of a suspected/confirmed COVID-19 outbreak in the facility or local area, or upon the direction of the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer.
Virtual visits (utilizing phone, Face Time, Skype, or window visits) will continue based on pre-arranged appointments by contacting the Recreation Coordinator or Social Work.
It should also be noted that indoor visits remain suspended. Exceptions will continue to be made on a case-by-case basis as per existing guidance (e.g. visits for compassionate end of life reasons).
We ask that you comply with these conditions to ensure we are taking every precaution to protect residents, families, and our staff. We hope you will also have patience with us as we implement this unique and complex visitation program.
J. Piché, CEO