With the implementation of a new family presence policy in long term care homes and acute care facilities, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is reminding family and support people to take care when spending time with their loved ones.
Jean Ryan, a resident of Regina Pioneer Village, visits with her son, Lyle, in her room.
“These past few months have been extremely difficult for LTC residents and their families as the pandemic has restricted them from being together as they choose,” said Christina Denysek, executive director of Continuing Care for the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). “I am sure there is a longing to have the freedom to embrace, hold hands and once again enjoy the closeness of loved ones. It is imperative however to continue to keep everyone healthy and safe. Residents and their families are being asked to please remain committed to physical distancing and infection prevention and control measures.”
Marion Walter (left) visits with her husband, John, in the gazebo at Regina Pioneer Village.
Under the new
SHA Family Presence Policy, patients, clients and residents can identify two family members or support people. One family member or support person can be present in the facility or home at a time.
Another option for additional family members or support people is to spend time outdoors with their loved one in long-term care. Outdoor visits can include more than one person at a time, provided physical distancing can be maintained. Physical distancing does not need to be observed among members of the same household. These visits are not limited to the two identified family members or support people.
If you have been identified as a family member or support person:
Family members and support people are not permitted to wait in waiting rooms or other common areas and are asked to limit their movements within the facility.
During outdoor visits where no Plexiglas barrier is present, family members or support people are asked to maintain a physical distance of two metres at all times. They will need to wear a mask, if tolerated, except in circumstances where the mask is a barrier to communication and a two-meter distance can be maintained. Masks will be required at all times during an outdoor visit if the family member or support person has been to an area of concern in the last 14 days.
In some in instances, the family member or support person may not be able to or is uncomfortable wearing a mask. Examples include but are not limited to: allergies, claustrophobia and children under the age of two or children who won’t keep masks on. In these cases, the home will work with the family member or support person to determine alternate approaches to support safe visits, depending on the situation. Possible alternatives include wearing a personal mask, such as a cloth mask, and maintaining a physical distance from others of a minimum of two metres at all times.
Masks will be required in instances where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as assisting in the personal care or feeding of a loved one.
“The current circumstances have been very difficult for our residents and families,” said Felecia Watson, executive director of Patient and Client Experience. “We appreciate the efforts our staff are making to reconnect residents and their loved ones in a safe environment during COVID-19. The SHA is continually assessing the impact of family presence restrictions and is committed to returning to open family presence as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The implementation of the policy is the responsibility of each facility or home and approaches may vary to reflect different considerations, such as community spread of COVID-19, home or facility outbreak status, facility layout not supporting physical distancing, availability of personal protective equipment or lack of suitable outdoor space for visitation.