Communal dining, indoor events allowed at LTC homes

(© Can Stock Photo / akiyoko)

Now that most staff and residents at Ontario’s long-term care homes have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the province is loosening some of the restrictions.

As of Tuesday, the province said 95 per cent of long-term care residents are fully vaccinated, and 85 per cent of the staff have had at least one dose.

“The high vaccination uptake in long-term care homes means we can take further steps toward bringing social interactions back,” said Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton.

Fullerton said that included allowing communal dining and social activities. Once the province lifts the stay-at-home order, long-term care homes will get direction so residents can go on social outings once again.

Residents and caregivers who have had the vaccine may also choose to have close physical contact, like hugging, again.

“The painful absence of family and friends together with the very difficult but necessary isolation from other residents have the most heartbreaking realities for seniors,” said CEO of AdvantAge Ontario, Lisa Levin. “We are so relieved and grateful that the early rollout of vaccines to residents and staff has brought needed protection and that the province is now in a position to safely lift some of the restrictions.”

Under an updated directive, all residents, regardless of whether they are immunized or not, can leave the facility for outdoor exercise, buying groceries, or visiting the pharmacy. Visits to the doctor and for compassionate reasons are allowed too.

Long-term care facilities will have to provide the resident with a face mask during their outing.

If the residents test positive for COVID-19, they will have to stay in their room until they are clear of the virus.

A new guidance document for those facilities identifies extra precautions needed to protect residents during activities in homes where 85 per cent of residents and 70 per cent of staff are not fully immunized.