In the face of the pending March 17 announcement of visitation restrictions for seniors and long-term care centres, most facilities in Penticton had already implemented their own policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hamlets at Penticton posted a notice earlier in the week, saying as of noon March 16, out of concerns for the safety of persons most vulnerable to COVID-19, it had decided to close its doors to the public, including families, volunteers and non-essential contractors and visitors.
The notice acknowledges the decision will likely cause “disappointment” for some people but it is being done with the intent of reducing the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak and the for the safety of its residents and staff.
For family members that have relatives residing at the facility who are in palliative care or who do transition to palliative care, special arrangements can be made for visits.
Additional local, long-term facilities, including the Village by the Station, Trinity Care Centre, Haven Hill Retirement Centre and Cherry Park Retirement Centre and others had also posted similar notices on their doors about the restricted access measures.
On March 17 Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the province is moving to restrict visitors in long-term care homes to essential visits only.
Care providers are being told they can restrict visits from the public to compassionate visits for end-of-life care and visitors who assist with feeding or mobility tasks may be permitted at the discretion of care providers.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) current direction and guidance is the same for those who are allowed to visit; do not visit if you have travelled outside the country, stay away if you are sick, wash your hands, visit in small groups, preferably in common rooms.
“We are thankful to Dr. Bonnie Henry and to Minister Dix for providing their direction on this important issue to keep seniors living in care safe,” says BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) CEO Daniel Fontaine in a news release March 18.
BCCPA represents service providers in the seniors living and wellness sector which incorporates long-term care, home care, assisted living, independent living and home support.
According to the province: “There is a recognition that, at this time, stricter limitations on visitors has the potential to increase anxiety for residents and families, as well as put additional pressure on health care workers where families provide invaluable support with activities of daily living and non-clinical care to support their loved ones – however, in an effort to control transmission, it is essential.”
As well, BCCPA is also working with its members in helping provide relevant labour relations advice to help manage their workforces in terms of internal illness intervention and prevention policies.