Easing of long-term care restrictions 'welcome news,' says CEO of P.E.I. Seniors Homes
COVID-19 protocols put in place to protect community care residents loosening
There are some changes coming soon for Islanders living in long-term and community care homes in the province.
Soon more visitors will be allowed at the facilities. On June 27 the number of designated visitors permitted will increase from six to 10. Residents will also be able to visit community services such as hair salons.
"It's been a long time since these abilities to just leave the home have been allowed," said Jason Lee, CEO of P.E.I. Seniors Homes, in an interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
"We've had residents essentially, you know, in a lockdown situation since the 13th of March 2020. And with the exception of going out to a doctor appointment or dentist appointment, you know, our residents just did not leave the home."
Masks will also be optional for some visits between vaccinated residents and their partners in care come June 27.
"Everybody in our homes now, you are wearing a mask with the exception of the residents," Lee said, adding it can sometimes be difficult to communicate and connect through a mask.
"It will start with outdoor visits being without masks and we'll facilitate those, make sure there is space to do that."
Lee said there may also be tents set up so people can still have outdoor visits if it is raining.
On July 18, some visitors will be allowed to go to a resident's room without a mask, Lee said.
"That's where a lot of the visiting takes place. That's their home, and that's where their families and friends like to gather and being able to do that without a mask is a giant step."
Lee said the loosening of pandemic protocols at long-term care facilities is "welcome news."
We've probably made some mistakes, and we've probably learned some lessons.— Jason Lee, P.E.I. Seniors Homes
"Everything that was done was done to protect them, protect their health. But we definitely learned throughout this entire pandemic that, you know, mental health and social activities are really important, maybe just as important as your physical health," he said.
"We've probably made some mistakes, and we've probably learned some lessons."
COVID-19 hasn't hit P.E.I. as hard as other regions. For the most part, Lee said the average Islander has been able to get their hair cut, go to restaurants and access various community services.
That hasn't been the reality for Islanders in long-term care.
Lee said in July, if all goes well, residents will be able to shop and go out to eat.
"That's going to feel like real freedom. That's what the residents have been asking me about for many many months."
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With files from CBC News: Compass