May 19, 2022

Seniors Advocate says B.C. must ensure all long-term care residents have an essential visitor

British Columbia Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie is calling on the province to declare that every long-term care resident has the right to designate at least one person as an essential visitor.

In a November report, the Elderly Advocate’s officer identified that 52% of requests made by residents to designate an essential visitor were denied.

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British Columbia aims to bring back one social visitor per resident to long-term care homes

As of January 1, only essential visitors are allowed into long-term care homes, due to an increase in outbreaks in nursing homes and shortages of staff to screen everyone who comes to visit them.

“While we can all understand the need to limit the number of long-term care visitors during this latest wave of COVID-19, going back to essential visitors without declaring that every resident is entitled to at least one essential visitor has effectively left the hospital. majority. long-term care residents without visiting loved ones, ”Mackenzie said.

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Current public health orders allow essential visitors to continue visiting if an outbreak is declared at a facility while access for social visitors is suspended for the duration of the outbreak.

Prior to the visit, all visitors to a long-term care facility should be fully immunized and rapid antigen tests administered.

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British Columbia’s latest long-term care rules

British Columbia’s latest long-term care rules

Although the province received the Seniors Advocate’s report in November, to date no changes have been made to the process to determine whether a resident meets the criteria to be designated an essential visitor.

The current decision is made by the administrator of the care facility on a case-by-case basis.

Essential visits may include visits for compassionate care, including critical illness, palliative care, palliative care, end-of-life care, physician-assisted dying, and essential visits for physical and health care. mental well-being of the patient or client.

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They may also include communication support for people with hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments, assistance by appointed representatives for people with disabilities, and visits for assisted decision-making. .

“My office receives phone calls and emails from family members, including spouses, who have been informed that they can no longer visit their loved one, even though they provide essential support and care,” Mackenzie said.

“They help feed their loved one, dress them, take them for walks and keep them engaged. For many residents, these visitors are the only people who can motivate them to engage in activities, yet they are not formally recognized as essential.

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British Columbia officials working one social visitor per resident in a long-term care facility

British Columbia officials working one social visitor per resident in a long-term care facility

British Columbia’s provincial health worker, Dr. Bonnie Henry, was asked on Tuesday whether the province would require every resident to be entitled to an essential visitor.

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Henry said the province tackled the problem last summer and determined there were different types of visitors recognized as essential. These include visitors providing additional care and those providing emotional support.

“We have a designated social visitor that everyone, every resident, should be able to have at least one. We have more than one planned, ”Henry said.

“As we enter this phase of risk again, we know that residents are well protected, but because they are older and we know that immunity wanes over time, there is still a risk. We want to minimize the number of people entering and leaving long-term care homes during this time of high transmission. “

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