Restrictions to Visitors in Long-Term Care Homes & Suspension of Residents’ Council Meetings
Dear Residents’ Councils and Long-Term Care team members,
On March 13, 2020, the Ministry of Health issued a ‘strong recommendation’ through Dr. David Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, that visitors be restricted in congregate settings, including Long-Term Care Homes across Ontario. OARC was consulted by the Ministry of Long-Term Care during the development of this memo. While we acknowledge this is a difficult decision, the recommendation is necessary to minimize the threat to residents being exposed to COVID-19.
Citing the Residents’ Bill of Rights (RBR) #15 the Ministry has defined an essential visitor as someone who is visiting a resident who is dying or who is gravely ill.
RBR #15 reads, “Every resident who is dying or who is very ill has the right to have family and friends present 24 hours per day.”
Everyone who enters the doors of your LTC home as a visitor will be met with someone who will engage in a process of screening for safe entry. Remember that only essential visitors will be permitted to enter. As a minimum, a few questions will be asked about symptoms of illness, recent travel history, and possible exposure to people who are ill with COVID-19.
If the person passes the screening process, he/she will be permitted entry into the building and will be instructed by a LTC home team member in the appropriate use of personal protective equipment to ensure the visit is safe. If the person fails the screening process, he/she will not be permitted to enter the LTC home.
The restrictions on visiting in LTC homes are in place “until further notice.” It is impossible to predict an accurate end point for this restriction. Active monitoring of COVID-19 continues. OARC was assured that our Ministry of Health will lift these restrictions as soon as possible.
In alignment with the timing of this memo, OARC recommends that Residents’ Council meetings be postponed until further notice. Social distancing is an important preventative practice, so minimizing group activities is an important step in reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Celebrating excellence, addressing concerns and experiencing peer support through Residents’ Council meetings/activities are important to living well in LTC. OARC acknowledges this is an extremely difficult time, and we assure you that the decision was not made lightly.
OARC extends heartfelt thanks to the thousands of LTC team members who remain committed to supporting the best quality of life possible for residents. We encourage you to be patient and kind with each other and look forward to the time when you will be reunited with friends, family, co-residents! What a celebration that will be!
COVID19: A Joint Statement from Family Councils Ontario and Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils
Dear Residents and Families,
Late last Friday, Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams sent out a memo to long-term care homes strongly recommending that homes only allow “essential” visitors until further notice. Essential visitors are defined as those who have a resident who is dying or very ill.
This means that, effective immediately, only essential visitors will be permitted to enter a long-term care home — and only if they successfully pass the screening. No other visitors will be permitted to enter the long-term care home.
We understand that this decision is hard on you. Visitors are essential to resident quality of life and assure families that all is well in their loved one’s home. Please understand that this decision was not taken lightly. It has been taken to ensure the health and safety of the residents entrusted to the care of long-term care homes, their families, and the staff members who are working hard during this time to keep residents safe and well. As the organizations that work to represent the voices of residents and families, OARC and FCO were consulted on this decision and support it. It is necessary in order to keep our residents and families safe.
Residents’ health and safety is paramount. To live in a healthy manner, opportunities for social engagement, joyful interaction, peer and family support, and meaningful activities are important. We recognize that restricting opportunities for such interactions will impact residents in significant ways, opening the door for loneliness, sadness and isolation. Your visitors/families are valued contributors to the daily rhythm and life lived in your home.
We also know that many families visit daily not only for social visits, but also to take care of their loved one and provide valuable assistance at mealtimes. Not being able to see and care for your resident must be one of the most heartbreaking aspects of the pandemic. But, it is a pandemic and we need to take precautions to avoid further spread of the virus. Restricting visitors to long-term care homes is one of those precautions.
The evidence gathered so far tells us that older adults and those with underlying health issues are at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. This means that residents are at higher risk of severe illness or death. During this difficult time, please keep this in mind and remember that measures such as visitor restrictions are being implemented to save lives.
We are living through an unprecedented time. During this time, please know that we understand and empathize with what you’re going through.
To residents, we ask that you take care of yourselves and your fellow residents when you can, and try to exercise patience with those who are around you, seizing opportunities for laughter and peace.
To families, we recognize your pain and stress from being far away from your loved ones. We ask that you be patient and understand that the visitor restriction is being done to keep your loved ones safe.
To team members/staff, we can’t be with you in person but we see the hard work that you are doing to keep residents safe, healthy, and engaged. Thank you.
This is a crisis. The Ontario government and long-term care homes are doing the best they can in this difficult situation. Our goal must be to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 infections in long-term care and to keep our residents safe.
We’re all in this together and we’ll get through it together.
Samantha Peck Dee Lender
Executive Director Executive Director
Family Councils Ontario Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils
As of April 13th at 10:30 am, there are 7470 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 with 291 deaths and 3357 resolved cases. There are currently 1534 cases under investigation.
The online list contains the best information we had at the time of publication of this bulletin. Information is based on media reports, emails from families and long-term care home staff, and updates from our sector partners. This list may contain errors.
If you are aware of a home with a COVID-19 outbreak that is not listed, please contact FCO >
The Ministry of Long-Term Care has launched a new resource for residents’ families. Families of residents in long-term care can now call the Family Support and Action Line.
This line is available to LTC families, staff, residents and the general public to call to receive information or raise concerns during #COVID19.
8:30am to 7:00pm
7 days a Week
Join the RNAO Connecting Families Facebook Group, a forum for people to share stories and get support from others experiencing a similar situation.
The group is moderated by RNAO’s LTC Best Practices Program team. They gather any questions you may have, answer those they can and identify what resources can support you and others during these uncertain times.
Please note they will not be able to provide clinical advice or specific information about your family and friends.
Join our Virtual Family Forum created by Family Councils Ontario to share your concerns, brainstorm ideas for maintaining a connection with residents during the visitor restriction, ask FCO staff questions about the COVID-19 situation and how it is impacting LTC, and give and receive support from your peers.
Sessions will be held:
- April 14 1-2 pm and 7-8 pm in English
- April 15 11 am-12 pm in French
- April 22 1-2 pm and 7-8 pm in English
- April 29 1-2 pm and 7-8 pm in English
- April 30 11 am-12 pm in French
Helping people use technology to see and connect with their families during the COVID-19 pandemic is absolutely critical. Never before have residents in long-term care and retirement communities felt more isolated and removed from normal life. The mental and emotional wellbeing of many are at stake.
This toolkit has been developed to help any long-term care or retirement residence team to take on the task of setting up scheduled video calls between residents and their loved ones. The content was prepared by Family Councils Ontario, the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils, and Tech Coaches Inc. as part of a collaborative partnership rooted in crisis resolution. They were actively informed by frontline examples of video calling initiatives that have launched with success since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
The toolkit contains information on what’s needed to organize video calls, common barriers and solutions, FAQs, promising practices, a suggested implementation schedule, and contact information for Tech Coaches Canada, the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils, and FCO. We’re here to help you develop and deliver a Virtual Visits program so please get in touch with us for support.
Family Councils Ontario, Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils, and Tech Coaches are taking the Virtual Visits Toolkit live!
On April 17, 10 am, join a free webinar with your fellow team members and homes across Ontario who are looking for a solution to connect residents with loved ones virtually.
This webinar will help you and your team identify what is needed to orchestrate video calls, common technology hiccups, barriers and solutions. Receive guidance on best practices and ask your questions.
Don’t worry if you are unable to join the webinar; it will be recorded for later distribution.
We all have a role to play in preventing the transmission of COVID19. The Government of Canada has information on:
- How Coronavirus Spreads >
- Preventing Coronavirus >
- Difference Between Self Monitor, Self Isolate and Isolate >
- Risks of Getting Coronavirus >
- False and Misleading Claims >
Watch Video on Proper Hand Washing Technique
~ shared with us by a Family Council member. Thanks!
Guidance for the Health Sector >
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Activities for Older Adults During COVID-19 >
Health Innovation Network
COVID-19 Bulletins >
Ontario Association Residents of Councils
Self Care Strategies >
Dennis Ashick, Acting Chair
Wendy Biernaskie, Family Council Liaison
The Marianhill family council works collaboratively with staff to enhance care for our residents, support for our families, and outreach through partner groups within the community. Family Council is open to all family members of residents or individuals considered of importance to the resident(s).
Family Council Meetings
Typically, meetings are held bi-monthly on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
Family Council Meeting:
Cancelled Until Further Notice Due to COVID-19 Virus
Meeting notices, agendas, minutes and general information can be found on the Family Council bulletin board at the Chapel entrance.
HPCO Caregive Modules
Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) has created a comprehensive set of Caregiver Modules with the goal of providing informal caregivers the support, resources and information needed to be the best caregiver they can be.
These modules cover a wide range of topics from learning how to deal with their emotions, make tough decisions and meet the appropriate physical, spiritual and cultural needs of the individual they are caring for.
Anyone wishing to access the HPCO Caregiver Modules can download and read the PDF files, or listen to the transcribed audio clips.
The modules are free to access and available in English, French and First Nations.