Q&A For Long-Term Care Residents & Families

Please note that as things change rapidly, Q&As and guidelines will be updated. Review this website often to ensure you have the most up to date information or consult your leader if you have concerns or identify discrepancies. 

Update on Providence long-term care sites: March 21, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Providence Health Care is working closely with the Ministry of Health and BC’s other health authorities to protect the health of all British Columbians, particularly the most vulnerable, in our Long Term Care and Acute Care settings.

An order was issued on March 20 by Vancouver Coastal Health’s Medical Health Officer which changes the visiting policy in Long Term Care effective immediately.

The order directs us to deny access to any and all visitors to LTC, with the limited exception of the immediate family members of a resident who is clinically assessed to be at end of life and the spiritual advisor to this resident, in which case such individuals will be subject to enhanced screening for COVID-19.

Additional protections announced for long-term care care residents

To protect this population and address anticipated pressures on the acute care system, Providence is adopting the advice of Ministry of Health for health authorities to:

  • Temporarily suspend inter-facility transfers, except in circumstances of intolerable risk, until further notice and ensure clients' place on the wait list for transfer is maintained during the suspension of transfers;
  • Prioritize admissions to long-term care from acute care over those from community where possible;
  • Temporarily suspend all health authority operated/funded home & community Care (HCC) adult day programs and;
  • Temporarily suspend the provision of in-facility respite, except in circumstances of intolerable risk.

The Public Health Order issued by Vancouver Coastal Health today comes into force within three days and remains in effect until further notice. The Order:

  • Immediately requires facilities to deny access to all visitors to the facility, with the limited exception of the immediate family members and spiritual advisor of residents who are clinically assessed to be at the end of their lives;
  • Immediately prohibits resident transfers between health care facilities unless approved by a Medical Health Officer;
  • Immediately requires facilities to carry out enhanced cleaning of facilities and enhanced screening of staff, contractors and visitors, and to adhere to higher standards for notification of cold and flu-like illnesses;
  • Immediately cancels or postpones indefinitely all group social activities;
  • Will prohibit long-term care staff and volunteers (with the exception of physicians, paramedics and laboratory technicians) from working at more than one health care facility.

Providence is taking every precaution necessary to protect the health and safety of its most vulnerable, which includes residents and staff at long-term care homes. We ask the public to also do their part, which includes staying home when you are sick and social distancing – such as staying home and at least two metres away from others – to help reduce virus transmission.

Can I still visit my family member in long-term care? ↓

An order was issued on March 20th by Vancouver Coastal Health’s Medical Health Officer which changes the visiting policy in Long Term Care effective immediately.

The order directs us to deny access to any and all visitors to LTC, with the limited exception of the immediate family members of a resident who is clinically assessed to be at end of life and the spiritual advisor to this resident, in which case such individuals will be subject to enhanced screening for COVID-19. 

What measures are being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in care homes? ↓

We have stepped up our resident monitoring efforts at all our homes. Any residents showing signs of the cold, flu or other similar symptoms are tested immediately. And we are ready to take appropriate actions to guard against spread.

We have also stepped up our infection prevention and control planning to ensure we can protect residents. This means implementing our isolation/seclusion procedures and protocols if any residents have onset of symptoms.

Our housekeeping staff have increased the number of times they clean our care areas, washroom and work areas. More hand-sanitizer dispensers are being provided and we are continually promoting proper hand-hygiene.

To further encourage the focus on hand hygiene we are placing ‘greeters’ (volunteers from non-clinical areas and the volunteer team) at the entrances of our sites, reminding everyone to please use the hand gel, and not to enter the building if you feel unwell.

How can residents and family members protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19? ↓

We're reminding staff, residents and visitors of all long-term care homes to exercise excellent hand hygiene and follow all infection control signs posted at the facility. As it is still flu season, we ask visitors who have not received the seasonal flu vaccine to limit their visit. Family and visitors of residents who are ill should not visit a long-term care home until they recover.

The best protection is to follow proper hygiene etiquette during cold and flu season. This includes proper hand washing with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and staying home when you are sick.

It’s a good idea to remind your relative of the importance of washing their hands on a regular basis, especially before they eat their meals.

Should long-term care residents and visitors wear masks? ↓

Masks should be used by sick people to prevent transmission to other people. A mask will help keep a person's droplets from spreading. We are asking anyone who may be currently feeling unwell to refrain from visiting our homes until their symptoms have subsided.  

It may be less effective to wear a mask in the community when a person is not sick themselves. Masks may give a person a false sense of security and are likely to increase the number of times a person will touch their own face (e.g., to adjust the mask).

Health-care workers will wear surgical masks, eye protection and gowns in order to protect themselves and other patients. During health-care procedures in which aerosol sprays may be generated (for example, when giving certain inhaled medications), health-care workers should wear specialized masks. 

What happens if a staff member at a long-term care home gets sick? ↓

All care staff showing any signs of illness have been asked not to come to work. If they are being tested for COVID-19, they are directed to get tested and to self-isolate until they have their results. If they test positive, they are asked to continue self-isolation as per Public Health’s direction.

A key prevention tactic has been Public Health Officials working with the Canadian Border Agency to screen people, including Canadian health care staff, re-entering BC. Anyone who chooses to travel outside of Canada will be asked to stay away from work or school for 14 days upon their return. Health care workers who provide direct patient care who have travelled outside of Canada may return to work immediately, but are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate at home following their shift.

Is my family member at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19? ↓

We are still learning about COVID-19. For people infected with COVID-19, there is a wide range in infection severity from no symptoms to severe pneumonia. Current information suggests that older people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are at higher risk of developing more severe illness or complications from COVID-19. Although most people with COVID-19 recover, people with chronic diseases are also at higher risk of death if they become ill.

Those at higher risk for COVID-19 complications should follow general preventative strategies against infection, and should they become ill, seek medical help early.

I’ve recently returned from travel. Can I visit my relative in long-term care? ↓

The BC Government is recommending against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States. Anyone who chooses to travel outside of Canada is being asked to stay away from work or school for 14 days upon their return.

Health care workers who provide direct patient care who have travelled outside of Canada may return to work immediately, but are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate at home following their shift.

Should I be concerned about the outbreak expanding to other long-term care facilities? ↓

Understandably, news of confirmed COVID-19 cases at long-term care homes is causing concern to families in Vancouver and across the Lower Mainland who have relatives in long-term care. Because of the precautions we have in place, there is a limited possibility of transmitting the virus from an affected care home to other long-term care homes.

For example, staff are working at only one location; they are not moving between facilities. We also have full infection prevention and control precautions in place in the facility to protect both the staff and the residents who are not affected.

Is it safe to continue with gatherings at long-term care facilities or in the community? ↓

The Provincial Health Officer has asked all community activities in long term care facilities to be temporarily suspended to protect residents and families.

Due to the uncertainty around COVID-19, there is a change in visitation rules. We are requesting that visits to patients be limited to immediate family members only.

We are monitoring visitors closely and asking all of them – including family members, contractors or supply delivery personnel – to utilize proper hand-washing with soap and water as well as alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and cough or sneeze into your arm.

We are asking anyone who may be currently feeling unwell to refrain from visiting our homes until their symptoms have subsided.
Now that the WHO has declared COVID-19 disease to be a pandemic, will you be doing anything differently or in addition to the measures already outlined? ↓
We are continually working with our health care partners, the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Officer, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. This includes ongoing planning and discussions to ensure we are fully prepared at our long-term care facilities. This has been taking place for quite some time now, well in advance of the pandemic declaration. Of course we will be continuing this work in the days and weeks ahead, and when necessary, enact extra measures to ensure our residents and families are safe.
This page last updated Apr 4, 2020 1:44pm PDT