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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? 

A Public Health Order restricts visitors to immediate family members and spiritual advisor of residents who are clinically assessed to be at end-of-life. For more information, please refer to the Visitors section (Page 6 of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control Guidance for Long-Term Care and Seniors Assisted Living). A very limited number of exemptions will be granted in exceptional cases. 

Should long-term care residents wear masks? 

As per BCCDC guidance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, all persons working in or visiting a Long-Term Care facility or Seniors Assisted Living residence should wear a surgical/procedure mask for the full duration of their shift or visit. There is no such guidance for residents of long-term care or seniors assisted living residences. Please contact your site administrator with further questions about mask use.

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.

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.

This page last updated May 27, 2020 5:53pm PDT