While we are still learning how best to live under the threat of either spreading or catching Covid, our long term care facilities are starting to also figure this out. See: https://www.allaboutestates.ca/family-essential-visitors/
With 80% of all COVID deaths having occurred in LTC facilities, this is definitely too late for many families.
In addition to all the concerns that have been previously highlighted, from a physical, structural, staffing and equipment perspective, the exclusion of family members was the final kick in the head. ((some previous on point blogs). https://www.allaboutestates.ca/crisis-ltc-worse-imagined/ https://www.allaboutestates.ca/can-broken-system-fixed/
The refusal to recognize family caregivers as essential to the wellbeing of many of the residents, was likely a contributing factor in many of the deaths and/or significant decline noted in these individuals.
The National institute on Aging (NIA) has drafted guidelines to support the reopening of Canadian Long Term Care homes to family caregivers and visitors.
Let’s start with some important definitions:
Family Caregiver: is any person whom the resident and/or substitute decision maker identifies and designates as their family caregiver. As essential partners in care, they can support feeding, mobility, personal hygiene, cognitive stimulation, communication, meaningful connection, relational continuity, and assistance in decision-making.
Essential Support Worker: is a person performing essential support services (e.g., food delivery, inspector, maintenance, or personal care or health care services such as phlebotomy or medical imaging).
General Visitor: is neither a family caregiver nor an essential support worker and is “visiting” primarily for social reasons.
Guiding principles: One needs to balance the risk of Covid infection with the risk of social isolation to resident health, wellbeing and quality of life. A family caregiver is essential to the health and wellbeing of an aging loved one. and they need to be welcomed back with open arms (albeit wearing gloves).