Indoor visits allowed at Waterloo Region's long-term care homes again
KITCHENER -- Ontario residents can now head indoors to visit their loved ones living in long-term care homes.
The visits are allowed at all facilities that aren't currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, with certain health and safety procedures in place.
Janetta Boomer was able to see her aunt for the first time in four months.
"It's been a long time coming and I'm going to be emotional because I miss her so much," she said.
Boomer said she wanted to do whatever it took to make her aunt, who has a visual impairment, feel special on her 96th birthday. Despite indoor visits starting again, Boomer met with her aunt outdoors.
"I don't qualify because I work in the health-care industry," Boomer explained. "So, in keeping her safe, I can only do outdoor visits for now."
In order to go inside, visitors need to have a negative COVID-19 test, performed in the past 14 days. Visitors also need to be screened before entering. Only two people are allowed to visit a resident at a time.
"We will provide them with a surgical mask and shield to wear during the visit," said Connie Lacy, director of seniors' services at Sunnyside Care Home.
The home has been very busy with outdoor visits since they started again in June, sometimes welcoming 80 visitors in a week.
Staff say they want to take extra care with visitors and residents, meaning no touching and staying six feet apart.
"We have to balance safety and security with the needs of our residents and family members," Lacy said.
Sunnyside said it's all about staying safe.
"We've had three outbreaks at Sunnyside Home, but they've all been from staff contracting it in the community," Lacy said.
Lanark Heights is taking its time in lifting restrictions. Indoor visits will start again there on Friday.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we are taking things slow with a measured, phased-in approach to the reintroduction of visitors at the home," a statement from Hildy Nickel, administrator at Lanark Heights, said in part.
At both homes, visits will be in designated areas and need to be booked in advance.