'A glimmer of hope': COVID-19 restrictions eased at long-term care homes

As vaccination rates across the province continue to climb, COVID-19 restrictions at long-term care homes were eased on Wednesday.

Changes by the province now allow residents to have indoor visits with up to two personal caregivers and two visitors, and outdoors visits of up to 10 people.

The changes are very much welcomed by Shirley Bennett, who is a resident at Bonnechere Manor is Renfrew. She says she hasn’t seen one of her daughters in two months.

“She lives in Kanata, and she doesn’t always get off so she can get here,” says the 88-year-old. “I see a video nearly every day of their children, but I don’t see them all the time.”

Bennett says she has used her iPad throughout the pandemic to video call with family, and receive pictures. But the restrictions have made her miss out on some important life moments.

“I’ve had two great-grand-children born in the last five months, and I would like to see them,” says Bennett.

The long term care resident says it’s wonderful that the rules have finally changed. “I love that when it opens up we can go [see them], it will be wonderful.”

Sandra Blok is one of Bennett’s three daughters, and also registered as one of her primary care givers. She says that with the new rules, her sister in Kanata won’t be restricted to window visits and phone calls any longer.

“If she wants to visit my mom outside, she just has to make arrangements with my sister and I,” says Blok, “and we can help mom get down to the front, take her back, and so she can come and visit with her anytime.”

Cohorting within homes is also being relaxed, allowing for family style dining again as well as activities like singing and dancing.

Administration at Bonnechere Manor says the news has given an instant moral boost to the residents, after an extremely tough period for long term care homes.

“This is going to allow basically everyone in the building who wants to be able to have someone come in for a visit be able to do so,” says Kim Saunders, the home’s administrator, who adds it’s not just the residents who have perked up. 

“Our staff, it gives them a glimmer of hope that things are finally coming to an end with this pandemic.”