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During the COVID-19 pandemic, strict guidelines have been put in place regarding visitors at long-term care homes.

On June 10, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health (“CMOH”) provided an update to “Directive #3” to include precautions and procedures for homes to follow in relation to managing visitors.

There are three categories of visitors outlined in the Directive:

  • Essential visitors;
  • Essential caregivers; and,
  • Visitors.

Essential Visitors

As noted in the Directive, “essential visitors” are those who perform essential support services, such as food delivery, inspection, maintenance, or health care services, or those visiting a very ill or palliative resident. Essential visitors are not subject to the same requirements as non-essential visitors.

Guidelines for Essential Visitors

Essential visitors are permitted to enter a home during an outbreak, provided they pass active screening each time they are on the premises of, or enter, the home. Essential visitors are required to follow CMOH guidance when visiting, including the following:

  • They must practice physical distancing and use a face covering/mask, if the visit is outdoors.
  • They must wear a surgical/ procedure mask, if the visit is indoors.
  • They are responsible for bringing their own masks.
  • They must only occupy the area required to fulfill the purpose of their visit.

Essential Caregivers and Visitors

“Essential caregivers” are those individuals who are not staff, essential visitors, or on-site contractors who provide care services to a resident. However, they are somewhat different than a “visitor” in that they provide regular support with essential tasks such as feeding.

A visitor is an individual coming to the home to see a resident who does not fall into the categories of “essential visitor” or “essential caregiver”.

Guidelines for Essential Caregivers and Visitors

The guidelines in place for essential caregivers are like those for visitors and are largely dependent on the context of the resident and the home. We wrote about these guidelines in a previous post. In permitting visits, homes will have discretion and must consider the directives in place at the time and whether the visitor is an essential caregiver.

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