British Columbia

Long-term care home visits may be possible in next few weeks, provincial health officer says

People with loved ones living in long-term care homes in B.C. could be allowed to visit at some point in the next few weeks, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in her daily briefing on Monday.

Visits will depend on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff

Visitors have been banned from care homes since mid-March, when health officials declared a COVID-19 outbreak inside the Lynn Valley Care Centre. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

People with loved ones living in long-term care homes in B.C. could be allowed to visit at some point in the next few weeks, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in her daily briefing on Monday.

Henry said the issue has been discussed over the past few weeks, as the province works to determine how to safely allow for family visits.

Visitors have been banned from care homes since mid-March, when health officials declared a COVID-19 outbreak inside the Lynn Valley Care Centre.

"It's something that's near to my heart. [...] It's such a challenging question, and we all want to be with our loved ones and we know how important it is for them to have family with them," she said.

"But we need to do it safely, so the combination of staff availability, making sure that staff are safe, making sure we have the PPE."

B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie has also called for the easing of restrictions for visits to long-term care homes in the province

Long-term care facilities have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic and new outbreaks continue to happen.

However experts say B.C. care homes have fared better than those in provinces like Ontario and Quebec because the province took swift, co-ordinated and decisive actions to stop the transmission of the virus, such as providing adequate protective gear and restricting long-term care home workers to one nursing home.

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