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COVID-19: Public Health releases recommendations to keep LTC home residents safe

Screenings for COVID-19 before every staff shift or essential visitor entry, and daily for residents among them
long term care

The Public Health Agency of Canada has released evidence-informed guidelines to help residents, seniors and health-care workers in long-term care homes remain safe and healthy. 

All Canadians have a role to play in helping to protect seniors and medically vulnerable people, who are at greatest risk of severe health complications from COVID-19, said PHAC in a news release. Unfortunately, many long-term care homes in Canada have been experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 and, sadly, numerous deaths.

The Infection Prevention and Control for COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Long-Term Care Homes provides recommendations that complement provincial and territorial public health efforts to prevent and control health care-associated infections. 

Recommendations include:

  • Restricting visitors and volunteers to only those essential for basic personal, medical or compassionate resident care.
  • Screenings for COVID-19 before every staff shift or essential visitor entry, and daily for residents. Workers should not go to work if they are ill.
  • Requiring staff, essential volunteers and visitors to wear a mask throughout their shift or visit.
  • Providing training on infection control measures such as proper hand hygiene and use of PPE.
  • Practising physical distancing (keeping a minimum distance of two metres between residents) to the greatest extent possible, including during group activities and meal times. All non-essential outings should be cancelled.
  • Routine additional cleaning, especially for high-touch, high-risk surfaces.
  • Identifying staff who work in more than one location, and making efforts to prevent this where possible.

These guidelines may be adapted to other settings such as retirement homes and residential homes for those with developmental disabilities.

"I have seen the heartbreaking stories of outbreaks in long-term care homes. We know seniors and people with pre-existing medical conditions are currently more vulnerable,” said Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health. “This is why the Public Health Agency of Canada released recommendations that will better protect residents, seniors and health care workers in long-term care homes and ensure they remain safe and healthy."

"Many of the deaths across Canada are linked to long-term care facilities and these devastating events have underscored the need for stringent infection prevention and control measures,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. “This guidance was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Infection Prevention and Control, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, to prevent COVID-19 transmission and infections among residents, health care workers and other essential staff in long-term care facilities."