During the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian long-term care homes implemented strict no-visitor policies to reduce the risk of introducing COVID-19 in these settings. There are now concerns that the risks associated with restricted access to family caregivers and visitors have started to outweigh the potential benefits associated with preventing COVID-19 infections. Many residents have sustained severe and potentially irreversible physical, functional, cognitive, and mental health declines. As Canada emerges from its first wave of the pandemic, LTC homes across the country have cautiously started to reopen these settings, yet there is broad criticism that emerging visitor policies are overly restrictive, inequitable and potentially harmful.
We reviewed the emerging LTC home visitor policies for Canada’s ten provinces and three territories as well as international policies and reports on the topic to develop National Institute on Ageing guidance for the re-opening of Canadian LTC homes to family caregivers and visitors. This guidance is evidence-informed and data-driven, and strives to find the right balance between infection prevention and supporting resident health and wellbeing. We describe six core principles and planning assumptions which were used to create recommended and expert-reviewed visitor policies for family caregivers and general visitors to LTC homes.
The guidance document is available here:
The National Institute on Ageing (NIA) is a think tank at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. The NIA is dedicated to enhancing successful ageing across the life course. It is unique in its mandate to consider ageing issues from a broad range of perspectives, including those of financial, physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. The NIA is focused on leading cross-disciplinary, evidence-based, and actionable research to provide a blueprint for better public policy and practices needed to address the multiple challenges and opportunities presented by Canada’s ageing population. The NIA is committed to providing national leadership and public education to productively and collaboratively work with all levels of government, private and public sector partners, academic institutions, ageing-related organizations, and Canadians.