New Brunswick

Visitors return to New Brunswick's long-term care homes, but caution prevails

At York Care Centre in Fredericton, it felt "just like Christmas" when the long-term care home welcomed visitors back for the first time in 100 days.

Red carpets, balloons and cheering staff greet visitors

York Care Centre, like all long-term care homes, was locked down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Street View)

At York Care Centre in Fredericton, it felt "just like Christmas" when the long-term care home welcomed visitors back for the first time in 100 days, saiad Lori McDonald, the home's vice-president of care and research services.

Like all long-term care homes, the York centre was locked down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the province is now allowing visits at nursing homes, as long as they could can do it safely.

McDonald said York went all out for the first group of visitors on the weekend.

"We had red carpets and banners and a giant banner on the road in front of our facility and balloons," she said. 

"Staff came down to the front entrance as visitors came in, and we cheered and clapped as each visitor was able to get through the screening process and then walked through the hallways to their loved ones room. It was pretty exciting."

Not the usual

Visitation didn't look like normal though.

There is a limit of one visitor per resident, and that visitor has to be the same person for any subsequent visits.

York Care Centre also put a limit of 22 total visitors in a day, meaning residents can see a visitor at most once every 10 days.

"We're hoping in another month or so those guidelines will open up a little bit, but it's completely dependent on what's happening in the environment around us with COVID, and if it's spreading throughout the province and the area," said McDonald.

Some nursing homes haven't been able to have any indoor visitation yet.

When the pandemic hit Canada, nursing homes and long term care homes closed their doors to visitors in an effort to protect the residents from COVID-19. With the easing of restrictions those doors are slowly opening again. Lori McDonald is the vice president of Care and Research Services at the York Care Centre, and Cheryl Wiggins is the administrator of Pine Grove Nursing Home. 14:43

Pine Grove Nursing Home is holding outdoor visits because the building is too small to adequately meet physical distancing requirements.

"We have a lot of space issues," said Cheryl Wiggins, an administrator at Pine Grove Nursing Home. 

"It's difficult for someone to walk down the hall with being six feet apart and so on. So we're concentrating on outside. The weather's beautiful, the residents want to be outside and so we've taken them out back into our garden."

But these limitations didn't seem to put a damper on residents' spirits.

"It was really nice to see the ladies … were there picking out their clothes, and they wanted their hair done and their makeup on," said Wiggins. 

"One lady told me it was just like a first date." 

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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