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.

For Long Term Care (LTC):

The Ministry of Health, working with the provincial health officer, has developed updated guidelines to support visits between family members and residents of long-term care homes and seniors’ assisted living facilities. Under these new guidelines for social visits, residents can visit with one designated family member or friend*.*Facility staff/operator can approve a change to the designated visitor under extenuating circumstances; for example, if the visitor moves away or becomes ill and is unable to visit.

Please note: Visits are not allowed if there is an active COVID-19 outbreak at the residence.

One hundred percent of long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities have safety plans in place and are offering family/ social visits. Signage will be posted at all main entrances to clearly communicate essential and social visit policies, with a phone number to call if visitors have questions or need assistance at the site.

For all visitors:

  • You will be screened for signs and symptoms of illness, including COVID-19, and possible exposure to COVID-19, prior to every visit.
  • You will need to bring a mask and wear it for the duration of your visit.
  • Please practice hand and respiratory hygiene (cough/sneeze etiquette), and maintain two-metres of physical distance where possible.

If you are an essential visitor:

  • You may not need to schedule your visit in advance.
  • If there is another family member or friend providing essential care, only one visitor is allowed at a time*.
  • *Except for palliative and end-of-life care, where more than one visitor may be allowed at a time.

If you are visiting for social reasons, you will need to do the following:

  • Book your visit with facility staff in advance
  • Socialize in designated areas identified by facility staff 

If you have any question, concern or need assistance with the facility’s safety procedures, please contact the number listed on the poster at the main entrance(s). In addition to visits in person, we also encourage you to stay in touch with your family or friend at the facility either virtually or remotely. As B.C. works to continue “flattening the curve,” we will continue to update the guidelines to ensure the health and safety of patients, residents, staff, and visitors.

For the updated guidance for long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities, visit BC Centre for Disease Control’s website.

Residents of our long-term care facilities and their families can find more information here

As of April 1, 2021: new guidance is now available that clarifies essential and social visitation, and LTC visiting guidelines. Read more here.

For Acute Care:

Please note: Visits are not allowed to units if there is an active COVID-19 outbreak - except for compassionate (end-of-life) visits.

In August, we implemented a new Essential Visitor guideline and process in acute care so that our patients can still visit with a loved one and ensure a smooth identification process when entering the hospital and ward. With the current outbreaks at St. Paul’s Hospital, we are reminded of how crucially important Essential Visitors and the process are to the care we provide.

What is an Essential Visitor?
An Essential Visitor (EV) is a family or support person, someone who is integral to the patient’s life and healing, who may be involved in care to the extent the patient desires in collaboration with the care team. We ask that patients only identifying one (1) Essential Visitor to ensure the units can safely accommodate visits on their unit. We understand that being in a hospital setting can be isolating and frightening and that some patients may want to have multiple visitors, however at this time we are only able to accommodate one Essential Visitor per patient per visit. Some patients may require more than one Essential Visitor. These requests will be handled on a case by case basis in collaboration with the care team.

The admitting care team will help the patient identify the family or support person. Once the person is identified the information is documented in CST Cerner Admission History Adult PowerForm.

How do Essential Visitors fit into our visitor restrictions?

Our current visitation restrictions are as follows:

Essential visits are limited to one visitor per patient/client within the hospital or clinic. Visitors who require assistance may also be accompanied by an additional family member.

All visitors must wear a medical-grade mask at all times when visiting our sites. A new mask will be provided to them at the front door. If they do not wear a mask they will be asked to leave.

Essential visits include, but are not limited to:

  • Visits for compassionate care, including critical illness, palliative care, hospice care, end of life;
  • Visits paramount to the patient/client’s physical care and mental well-being, including:
    • Assistance with feeding;
    • Assistance with mobility;
    • Assistance with personal care;
    • Communication assistance for persons with hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments;
    • Assistance by designated representatives for persons with disabilities, including provision of emotional support;
    • Visits for supported decision making; and
    • Visits for pediatric care, labour and delivery.
  • Existing registered volunteers providing the services described above.
  • Visits required to move belongings in or out of a client’s room.
  • Police, correctional officers and peace officers accompanying a patient/client for security reasons.
The Process for Essential Visitors
  1. The patient will identify their Essential Visitor upon admission to the hospital. The admitting care team will help the patient identify the family or support person. Once the person is identified the information is documented in CST Cerner Admission History Adult PowerForm.
  2. Upon arrival at the unit, they must sign in at the Nursing Station with the Unit Coordinator or Registration Clerk. The Unit Coordinator or Registration Clerk will do a formal COVID-19 screening. If the Unit Coordinator has any question about the Essential Visitor they will contact the most responsible clinician on the unit.
  3. Essential Visitors will be provided a medical grade mask at the entrance of the hospital, and should perform Hand Hygiene before entering and exiting the unit and the hospital.
  4. Essential Visitors should stay at the bedside area.
  5. Essential Visitors should try to maintain appropriate physical distancing (2 metres) from other patients or other family members.
  6. At the end of their visit, Essential Visitors must sign out with the Unit Coordinator or Registration Clerk. This is to ensure best practices for contact tracing should a COVID-19 exposure occur.

All Providence Health Care sites have controlled access protocols in place and all visitors can expect to be asked the reason for their visits and may not gain access to the site, based on the above criteria.

Changes to Essential Visitors Policy and Practices Essential Visits During COVID-19 Recovery:

Please view the following guidelines and algrorithm documents for reference (created May 11, 2020):

Talking points for switchboard, security, volunteers, visitor info desks and administration are available, along with signs: 

This page last updated Apr 1, 2021 9:18am PDT