Why are the PCHs following guidelines that are sometimes different than what is recommended to the public?
Personal Care Homes follow different guidelines as residents tend to be older, tend to have pre-existing medical conditions, and live in shared spaces, which puts them at risk for more severe disease and higher mortality if infected with COVID-19. The Public Health guidance identifies long term care as a setting with high risk or vulnerable populations. The public health orders do ‘not apply to a facility where health care or social services’, allowing for different direction to be provided.
Why do PCHs need these guidelines if the residents are vaccinated?
Vaccines add significant protection from COVID, but does not result in zero risk. There are lots of things residents can do with less risk, when they and their loved ones are vaccinated. Vaccinated residents can go on social outings, and entertain general visitors in their room. Although vaccines add protection, public health guidance still requires that we should all be cautious in confined spaces, in crowds, and in close contact with others. This is because individuals may still be able to carry the virus and may be able to spread it to others, even if they are vaccinated or not showing any symptoms. Physical distancing, hand hygiene and personal protective equipment, such as masks and eye protection, continue to be necessary to keep our residents safe.
Why can hairdressers not work in more than one PCH?
Hairdressers work closely with many residents during the course of their day. COVID-19 can spread more easily in shared living situations and when individuals are in close contact with one another. Hairdressers wear medical masks and eye protection to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and restricting their work to only one PCH is another strategy to reduce the risk of infection.
Why is physical distancing still necessary between residents if they are fully vaccinated?
The vaccine will help to protect individuals from getting ill from COVID-19, however even if they don’t get ill they may still be able to carry the virus and may be able to spread it to others. Physical distancing is a strategy to mitigate and reduce the potential risk of spread of COVID-19.
Why are group sizes in the public different than what is allowed in a PCH?
Current Public Health Orders provide exceptions to a facility where health care or social services are provided, including Personal Care Homes. The group sizes for residents and their visitors are outlined in the LTC Resident Visitation Principles. Group sizes can vary and are dependent on COVID-19 activity and pandemic level (which is determined by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer), and the amount of space and support available at the site to allow for physical distancing.
For recreation activities, sites are following the Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines. During group activities, residents and staff are spaced to maintain 2 meters/6 feet between them. The size of the group will be dependent on the amount of space and support at the site to allow for physical distancing.
Why can the PCHs not open the doors and allow all vaccinated or unvaccinated visitors come in as they would like (i.e., any hours and any days of the week)?
COVID-19 remains a threat. To minimize the risk of Covid-19 outbreaks in Long Term Care, the resident visitation principles remain in place. The number of visitors a resident can have varies, and is dependent on COVID-19 activity and pandemic level (which is determined by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer) and the amount of space available at the site to allow for physical distancing. Visiting hours and number of visitors to the facility are determined by the facility operators, in order to ensure they have the resources available to manage the visits in a safe manner.
Why can fully vaccinated residents not go on outings to multiple locations at one time i.e., shopping in different stores?
The more contacts an individual has, and the more time an individual spends in close proximity with others, the more opportunity there is to catch Covid-19. In an effort to keep all residents of the care home safe, direct travel to a destination and back to the facility is recommended.
For outdoor visits, why are masks and physical distancing still required?
Masking and physical distancing are still strongly encouraged as COVID-19 can spread even if residents and visitors are vaccinated and residents are considered more vulnerable than the general population.
If I am a fully vaccinated visitor or designated family care provider, why do I still need to wear personal protective equipment?
Personal protective equipment (masks and eyewear) is effective at preventing and reducing the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination status does not guarantee COVID-19 cannot be acquired or spread.
Why do General Visitors have to maintain the 2m/6ft distance when they are fully vaccinated and Designated Caregivers do not have to be fully vaccinated yet can come within 2m/6 ft?
General visitors and designated family care givers are both recommended to maintain 2 metres/6 feet of distance between themselves and the resident. However, designated family caregivers play a role in the care of the resident, which may mean they are at times unable to maintain physical distancing. Designated family caregivers are provided with a procedure mask (level 1) and eye protection, and are provided education in infection prevention and control measures in order to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Why do volunteers need to show proof of vaccination to go to more than 1 PCH?
Volunteers are included in the Public Health Order that restricts staff movement at personal care homes. These orders require that volunteers limit their service at one personal care home unless they show proof of vaccination.