Frequently Asked Questions about Social Visits – Menno Home, Hospital and Terrace East

  • Family/social visits are no longer limited to one designated family member or friend. Additional family members and friends are allowed with a maximum of two visitors (plus one child) at the same time if the visit is indoors.
  • Residents may have more social visitors outdoors, in an appropriate location and in alignment with the current provincial health office guidelines. Infection
    prevention and control measures (e.g., visitors must be screened for signs and symptoms of illness prior to every visit, practice hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette – cough or sneeze into elbows sleeves and dispose used tissues properly – and wear medical masks) must be followed.
  • There are no longer restrictions on the location, frequency, or duration of visits, and visits can now take place in residents’ rooms or apartments (AL).
  • Physical touch between residents and their visitors is now allowed with infection prevention and control measures in place. This includes hugs and hand holding between residents and their visitors.
  • Every resident is entitled to regular, routine, frequent opportunities for social visitation, allowing for a minimum of 60 minutes if desired.
  • Under the provincial policy, only health-care workers, staff and visitors are required to wear a medical mask on-site.
  • In general, residents without suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness are not required to wear a medical mask when they move around in the facility.
  • Only residents with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness are required to wear medical masks (if tolerated) or use tissues to cover their mouth and nose. In these situations, these residents are required to isolate and stay in their rooms or bed space as much as possible to minimize the risk of transmission to other residents and staff.

Yes. Any food that you bring should be within the dietary guidelines for the individual resident (check with nursing). Visitors may not eat or drink with a resident as a mask must be worn at all times.

  • Residents will be supported to leave the facility for appropriate outings and family visits (not just essential outings). Residents will not be required to isolate when they return from an outing.
  • Residents will also no longer be required to isolate for 14 days upon admission to a LTC or seniors’ AL facility. Isolation will not be required for Independent Living (Pavilion, Terrace West, Primrose Gardens).
  • Yes. Pets must be contained or on a leash for the visit. They must be controlled and safe for all residents, staff and visitors.
  • Residents and visitors are still expected to practice proper hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette. Visitors are still required to wear a medical mask when visiting
  • Social visits must still be scheduled in advance and tracked for contact tracing.
  • Visitors will still be screened for signs and symptoms of illness, including COVID-19, before their visits.
  • Visitation will be suspended if there is an active COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.
  • Recognizing that LTC and seniors’ AL facilities are home to some of our most vulnerable citizens who are at risk of serious complications from COVID-19, the Province implemented restrictions to reduce the risk of transmission for residents and staff during the earlier phases of the pandemic.
  • While the restrictions were necessary to keep residents and staff safe, it is clear that they have been challenging for many residents and their families.
  • The ministry and the provincial health officer review COVID-19 guidelines and policies regularly and based on successful immunization efforts for residents and staff in all facilities, combined with visitor screening and infection and prevention control measures, the Province is easing some of the restrictions for residents and families.
  • For example, as of February 15, 2021, many staff, residents and essential visitors in all LTC and seniors’ AL settings have been vaccinated with their first dose and several with their second dose.
  • More than 90% of LTC and seniors’ AL facility residents provincewide have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Immunization for the remaining, small number of residents who have not received their first dose and wish to do so is being prioritized.
  • The vaccine has proven to be highly effective and these changes are being implemented in all LTC and seniors’ AL facilities in B.C. now that the majority of residents have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine for protection. At Menno Home, Menno Hospital and Terrace East Assisted Living, over 90% of the residents have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • No. Residents may leave Menno Place for appropriate outings and family visits. There is no requirement for residents to isolate when they return from an outing.
  • While there is no restriction on the length of outings, residents should keep in mind that settings outside of their facility may not have as rigorous infection prevention and control practices as their facilities and the risk of transmission for COVID-19 and other illnesses are likely higher.
  • When residents are outside of Menno Place, they should follow general infection prevention best practices such as maintaining physical distance from other people where possible, frequent hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and wearing a mask when they are in indoor public settings or are unable to maintain a physical distance from others.
  • While residents may leave for social outings outside of facilities, it is important for residents, their families, and friends to keep in mind that there are still provincial COVID-19 restrictions for the general public that also apply to them.
  • For instance, the provincial health officer order on gatherings and events limits the number of people who can attend outdoor and indoor social gathering. Large groups of people outside a person’s core bubble are not allowed. This includes large family celebrations or events both indoors and outdoors.
  • For more information on current provincial restrictions and PHO orders, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/info/restrictions.
  • Residents may go on overnight visits, if they choose, and there is no requirement for residents to isolate when they return from an outing.
  • No. Any limits on the frequency or duration of visits should only be to meet WorkSafe BC guidelines and facility visitation safety plans.
  • Every resident is entitled to regular, routine, frequent opportunities for social visitation, allowing for a minimum of 60 minutes if desired
  • Visits must still be scheduled in advance and tracked for contract tracing.

Social visitation would be suspended when there is an active outbreak, which is defined as a confirmed case in a single resident or a single staff member where there has been exposure in the facility.

  • No. Our staff are not required to monitor social visits – in resident rooms or in other areas of the care home or assisted living apartment.

The essential visitor policy for LTC and seniors’ AL remains in place with no changes

The essential visitor guidelines include:

  • Visits for compassionate care, including critical illness, palliative care, hospice care, end of life and medical assistance in dying.
  • Visits paramount to the patient/client’s physical care and mental well-being, including:
  • Assistance with feeding mobility or personal care;
  • Communication assistance and supported decision-making for people with disabilities; and,
  • Existing registered volunteers providing services as described.

Essential visits are limited to one visitor at a time. For palliative and end-of-life care, more than one visitor may be allowed at a time.

  • Yes. Visitors are still expected to wear a medical mask when visiting their family member or friend in the facility. They should also practice hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and maintain physical distance from other residents, visitors, and staff while they are on-site.
  • For residents who have outings or family visits outside of the facility, we encourage them to follow the public health guidelines for everyone else in the community.
  • These include frequent hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, maintaining physical distance from people where possible and wearing a mask in indoor public settings or where physical distance cannot be maintained.
  • At this time the focus is on immunizing residents, staff and essential visitors, which we know adds a layer of protection for those in the facility, especially residents who cannot be immunized for medical reasons.
  • And to further protect residents, staff and visitors, strict infection prevention and control precautions remain in place in LTC and seniors’ AL facilities. Social visitors are required to book their visits in advance, be screened before entry, wear a medical mask, practice hand hygiene, cough/sneeze into their elbows and maintain their physical distance from other visitors and staff.
  • The Province is also in phase 2 of BC’s Immunization Plan, which means that more members of the community, especially high-risk populations, have received at least one dose of the vaccine or will soon.
  • The Province is using point-of-care (POC) testing as another tool to support public health in contact tracing and outbreak response efforts in rural and remote communities, as well as some worksites and congregate living settings where there is a high risk for outbreaks with vulnerable populations, including LTC facilities. Menno Place nurses will receive training in providing the POC test shortly.
  • While POC testing is used at some LTC (long-term care) facilities, it is primarily used to enhance screening of LTC staff to prevent outbreaks and as part of a public health investigation to keep other staff and residents safe. It is not intended to be used as a screening tool for general social visitors at this time.
  • It is important to note that POC tests do not replace any of the public health orders, protective measures or COVID-19 safety plans. The requirements for visitors (social visits) remain in effect: visitors will need to schedule their visits in advance, be screened before entry and follow infection control and prevention practices (hand hygiene, maintain physical distance from other visitors and staff while on-site, wearing medical masks and cough/sneeze into their elbows).
  • If there is an active outbreak, social visits will be temporarily suspended. All of these measures will help to reduce the risk of transmission and keep residents, staff, health-care workers and visitors safe.
  • While immunizing as many people as possible is the goal, immunization is not mandatory for staff or residents.
  • We recognize that there are a number of reasons why an individual may choose not to be immunized, including due to medical conditions.
  • Vaccine effectiveness and protection is very high for residents, even after one dose.
  • The majority of residents at Menno Home, Hospital and Terrace East have received a second dose which adds an additional level of protection.
  • We continue to offer immunization opportunities to staff to encourage uptake.
  • We also continue to provide information to support staff who may be hesitant about being immunized.
  • The Province had implemented restrictions at LTC and seniors’ AL facilities to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for residents and staff during the earlier phases of the pandemic.
  • Social visits are important to the health and wellbeing of residents, their families and friends, which is why the restrictions are being eased based on the current immunization situation at LTC seniors homes and seniors’ AL facilities.
  • These restrictions will be regularly re-evaluated. These restrictions will be revisited at the end of June 2021 and may be adjusted based on the progress of immunization and the COVID-19 situation in the community.

Yes. We will provide residents with a medical mask to wear when they are leaving Menno Place on an outing.

  • Physical distance restrictions between residents within the facility have been revised so residents can participate in shared dining and small group social/spiritual or recreational activities within a facility unit or floor.
  • Residents will go back to eating at the same time and sitting at tables with other residents.

CDC Guidelines for Social Visits in LTC and AL

Download CDC Guidance PDF 

The restrictions put in place a year ago by the Provincial Health Officer that required long-term care homes and assisted living apartments to close their doors, have your residents dine in their rooms, and stay physically distanced from their friends and family are set to end on April 1st. The direction from Dr. Bonnie Henry, Public Health Officer to care home operators outline the following requirements:

  • All residents can have regular, frequent and routine opportunities for social visitation
  • Visits must allow for a minimum of 60 minutes
  • Requirement for a ‘single designated social visitor’ removed to allow additional family and friends to visit
  • Expanding number of visitors allowed at a time (up to two visitors, plus a child)
  • Location of visits changed to enable family and friends to visit in resident rooms without staff monitoring
  • Allowing physical touch to occur between visitor and resident with appropriate Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures in place (e.g., hand hygiene, masks)

Menno Place will support social and emotional connections by adhering to the following:

  • Removing physical distancing requirements between residents
  • Resume communal dining and small group social or recreational activities for residents, within a facility unit or floor
  • Residents will be supported to go on outings with no requirements for isolation upon return
  • Removing requirement for 14-day isolation for admissions into the facility, and providing immunizations if needed

Safety considerations are also to be observed:

  • COVID -19 outbreaks have decreased in LTC & AL but current rate of community transmission remains a concern.
  • Visitors and Operators will need to remain diligent with safety precautions to maintaining the safety and wellbeing of all.
  • Strict adherence to Infection Prevention & Control practices are essential.
  • Regular screening of residents and visitors for signs of illness.
  • Visitors to stay home if they are feeling unwell

The following practices must continue:

  • Social visitation will continue to require advanced booking, screening of visitors, use of medical masks, and practicing frequent hand hygiene.
  • Social visitation will continue to be suspended during outbreaks.
  • Essential visitation remains in place and any resident who requires an essential visitor is supported.
  • The appeals process through the Patient Care Quality Office for Essential and Social Visitation remains in place.

The next steps set out by the Provincial Health Officer are as follows:

  • Changes are effective April 1st to June 30, 2021.
  • Posting updated Visitor and Infection Prevention and Control Guidance.
  • Ongoing monitoring of implementation to ensure care homes and residents are supported.
  • Commitment to review and evaluate visitor restrictions as we move forward.