• Stephen Lecce, MPP

Welcoming Caregivers to Ontario's Long-Term Care Homes

The Ontario government is updating the visitor policy for long-term care homes to help operators implement consistent visiting practices across the province. The policy is clarifying guidance about visits from caregivers to help all homes welcome caregivers as of September 9, 2020. Since March, 'essential visitors' to long-term care homes have included individuals performing essential support services or those visiting a very ill or palliative resident. Under this umbrella, 'caregivers' are essential visitors and important partners in care who provide direct care to residents — such as helping with feeding, mobility, hygiene, or cognitive stimulation. They can be family members or friends, privately hired caregivers, paid companions and/or translators. Operators have been encouraged to facilitate visits by caregivers, however, implementation has been inconsistent. The updated policy provides clarity that caregivers are allowed to visit homes at any time, including during an outbreak, subject to direction from the local public health unit. This will support better implementation across homes. The updated visitor policy outlines that:

  • Each resident and/or their substitute decision maker may designate a maximum of two caregivers.

  • Caregivers can visit, without time limits.

  • If a home is not in outbreak, and the resident is not self-isolating or symptomatic, caregivers can visit together. If a home is in outbreak, or the resident is self-isolating or symptomatic, they must visit one at a time to limit risk of transmission and follow direction from the local public health unit.