61 of BC's 681 seniors homes now have plans in place to resume visits

Senior visits set to resume

Seniors' long-term care facilities have started submitting plans to the B.C. government to document how staff intend to allow residents to have visitors while keeping everyone safe.

Since B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced on June 30 that his government would start accepting these plans, 61 of the 681 homes in the province have submitted them, he said July 9. He did not elaborate on how many of the plans would be approved. 

Homes that have approved plans could start allowing visitors into the facilities as early as next week. 

The breakdown of seniors' homes with plans submitted to the government, by health region, is:

  • 3 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
  • 18 in Fraser Health;
  • 18 in Island Health;
  • 4 in Interior Health; and
  • 18 in Northern Health.

Initial provincial restrictions on visits include that they will happen with each resident having a single designated visitor, that each visitor and resident would go to a designated place within the care home and that both vistor and resident would wear protective equipment.

"Keeping people safe in those communal-living environments is incredibly important," provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said July 9.

"Visiting is an important part of what we need to do to keep the mental health as well as the physical health of our seniors in care, however it needs to be done in a measured fashion so that we're not introducing this virus into a care home again."

Dix on June 30 announced $165 million in new funding for up to three new full-time staff per home to oversee the visits and train visitors on how to wear protective equipment. He also announced that the government would provide a total of $26.5 million to care home operators to subsidize them for extra costs endured during the pandemic, including such items as hand sanitizer and masks. 

The plan to allow visitors in B.C. care homes is contingent on the province continuing to record a relatively low number of new COVID-19 cases. 

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