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Ministry ‘not further changing visitation rules’ at long-term care homes

Visitor restrictions at long-term care homes are, for the most part, staying status quo.

That’s what the Ministry of Health is saying, with two Vancouver Island lobby groups calling for a plan that would allow visits from family members.

Families from groups in the Comox Valley and Nanaimo recently issued a joint letter to health authorities, calling for a framework that would make it possible for people to visit their loved ones in long-term care. 

The families say they “whole-hardheartedly acknowledge the dangers posed by COVID, but a lock down of two-and-a-half months, with no end in sight, is starting to create its own health risks from isolation and depression.”

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In response, the Ministry of Health issued a statement, acknowledging how difficult the visitation restrictions are for people in long-term care and their families. 

“These measures were not taken lightly and continue to be an important protection for residents and staff. We have updated the essential visitor policy to help meet the physical and mental well-being of residents,” the statement continued. 

“However, due to the continued high risk COVID-19 poses to people in long-term care, we are not further changing visitation rules at this time.”

One of the groups asking for changes is Crying Out Loud for Quality Residential Care in the Comox Valley.

Group member Delores Broten’s 86-year-old husband, Don Malcolm, is a resident of Comox Valley Seniors Village.

She says a risk evaluation framework would help pave the way for some limited visitations in long-term care homes. 

“We’re coming up to three months now, of closure, and the only way you can get in, is if your person’s dying,” Broten said. “So what we’re asking is the authorities take a regional approach, take a look at what the actual community spread situation is in each community, and then get the families to nominate a visitor and do a risk assessment on that visitor.”

She said this would allow some sort of contact with families again.

Broten sees her husband, who has dementia, going downhill.

“He doesn’t smile and laugh the way he used to. I know he is old and I know dementia kills, but I need to keep him company on this journey.”

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