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HomeNewsRegional approach needed to ease visitor restrictions at long-term care homes: Seniors...

Regional approach needed to ease visitor restrictions at long-term care homes: Seniors Advocate

There’s a strong desire from residents and family members of loved ones currently in assisted living and long term care homes to see the current one visitor limit expanded.

This is according to the BC Seniors Advocate’s Staying Apart, Staying Safe report, where 42% of respondents believe the one visitor policy should be increased to two while 36% would support a three to five visitor limit.

Senior’s Advocate Isobel Mackenzie told Vista Radio while COVID-19 remains very much active in the province, a regional approach is needed to loosen restrictions.

“It is everywhere but the degree to which it is circulating is not the same everywhere. That’s where you are taking your risk measures from and it’s not as risky in Northern Health as it is in Fraser Health there is just not as much circulating right now.”

“We have sort of locked into a routine where we have only had one visitor and the routine where we are seeing that most of the visits are still in common areas, 30% are still outside only and most of them are observed by staff. You’ve got situations out there where you have adult children who haven’t seen their parents in nine months. They might have seen them every day or every other day for 50 or 60 years leading up to that. It is not untypical that you will have a couple of sisters taking care of their mom who is in long-term care but for the past nine months, only one of either myself or my sister has been able to do so. In fact, for four months none of us were able to go in, and now with the amendment, only one has been going meaning one of us hasn’t seen here nine months.”

To strengthen that argument, Fraser Health has 2,236 active cases while Northern Health sits at 21 after Tuesday’s report.

About 500 family members and 116 residents from Northern Health participated in the survey.

In addition, over 13-thousand people from across the province had their say, and many expressed concerns over the current one visitor limit as well as decreased levels of physical and cognitive functions from their loved ones.

According to the report, 151 residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities have died from COVID-19 while another 45-hundred have died from illnesses and conditions not-related to the coronavirus.

Mackenzie noted some changes need to be made.

“I think we need to refocus on why we are trying to manage this pandemic, we are trying to manage it so that we can enjoy some form of quality of life that has got to be applied to long-term care and assisted living as well.”

“If we are keeping COVID out to keep people from dying there are still going to die. They are just going to die of something else and they are not going to have time with their family members in the months and weeks leading up to that.”

Northern Health has 4% of the long-term care and assisted living beds in BC.

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