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Long-term Care Homes & Shelters

COVID-19 information and resources for Long-term Care Homes, Retirement Homes and Shelters

As of December 30th, 2021, access to long-term care homes by general visitors are paused. Only designated caregivers can enter long-term care homes. Day absences for all residents for social purposes are also paused.

Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes FAQs

Restrictions surrounding visitors to Long-Term Care and/or Retirement Homes change regularly based on current pandemic conditions. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our Visiting a Long-Term Care or Retirement Home webpage. General requirements and/or restrictions can be found below.

As of December 30th, 2021, general visits to Long-Term Care Homes have been paused. Only designated caregivers may continue to enter Long-Term Care Homes.

The following applies when a Long-Term Care home is NOT in Outbreak

Generally, visitors are permitted in a Long-Term Care home if they meet the following criteria:

  • Visitors must be fully vaccinated to have an indoor visit
    • Infants under 1 year of age are not considered visitors and are permitted
    • Children under the age of 5 are not permitted to visit indoors at this time as they are not currently eligible for vaccination.
    • Fully vaccinated children age 5 and up are permitted.
  • Visitors must be tested each time they attend a long-term care home unless they have a negative test from the previous day. Testing is required for both indoor and outdoor visits.
  • Up to 2 visitors are permitted at a time indoors. Up to 4 people are permitted at a time outdoors.

If a Long-Term Care home is in Outbreak

Essential visitors are the only type of visitors allowed when there is an outbreak or when a resident is in isolation. Essential visitors must wear a medical mask for the entire duration of their shift or visit, both indoors and outdoors, regardless of their immunization status, per Directive #3 unless exceptions in the directive or this document apply.

General visitors are not permitted:

  • when a home or area of a home is in outbreak
  • to visit an isolating resident
  • when the local public health unit so directs

Please read the “Visitors” section on the COVID-19 Guidance Document for Long-Term Caren Homes in Ontario for more details on the definitions of essential visitors and general visitors.

Yes. All staff, students, volunteers, and caregivers, (regardless of their vaccination status) are required at minimum to be tested 2 times per week, in addition to existing testing requirements for those not fully vaccinated.

  • General visitors and support workers (regardless of their vaccination status), require
    proof of negative test upon entry, taken the day of the visit, or on a previous day. Testing is also required for outdoor visits.
  • Testing not required for infants under one year of age.
  • Individuals who show proof of a confirmed COVID-19 infection in the past 30 days should not be re-tested except with the onset of symptoms or if they’ve travelled outside of Canada in the 14 days prior to entering a home.

At least once daily, residents must be assessed for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including temperature checks as a way to quickly identify illness. If a resident has fever, cough or other symptoms of COVID-19 or mild respiratory and/or atypical symptoms they must be isolated and get tested as per the COVID-19: Provincial Testing Requirements Update.

Long-term care and retirement homes must implement active screening, including a temperature check of all staff, visitors, and anyone else entering the home (residents returning from a visit) for COVID-19 except emergency first responders, who should, in emergencies, be permitted entry without screening. Active screening is required regardless of vaccination status.

The COVID-19 Screening Tool for Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes checks exposure and proper recent PPE usage. Active screening is required once per day at the beginning of a shift or visit and includes a temperature check after the questionnaire is passed.

According to this updated Ministry of Health COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update Document: In the event a resident living in a long-term care or retirement home develops symptoms of COVID-19, asymptomatic residents, regardless of immunization status, living in the same room should be tested immediately along with the symptomatic resident under the direction of local public health.

For asymptomatic residents who have been identified as a close contact of a known case, regardless of their vaccination status, a negative result should not change public health management as the individual may still be in their incubation period. Re-testing of asymptomatic individuals who initially test negative is recommended if they develop symptoms.

If a staff or visitor develops COVID-19 symptoms they are advised to go home immediately, to self-isolate and encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 using a lab-based PCR test.

The Health Unit may also, based on a risk assessment, determine if any additional testing is required and its frequency.  There maybe re-testing of asymptomatic individuals who initially tested negative if they develop symptoms.

As part of the updated Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 guidance document for long-term care homes, any single confirmed case of COVID-19 who is a resident of a long-term care home or retirement home is considered a suspect  outbreak for COVID-19. 

A confirmed outbreak in a home is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in residents and/or staff (or other visitors) with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period.

A confirmed outbreak in a home is removed from the WECHU outbreak list after 14 days with no new positive cases. For more information on COVID-19 or other respiratory or enteric outbreaks in a Long-Term Care Home or a Retirement Home please visit our Outbreaks Page.

An essential visitor prior to visiting a resident where the home is in an outbreak should have training on how to safely provide direct care, including putting on and taking off required PPE, and hand hygiene. If the home does not provide training it must direct caregivers and support workers to the appropriate resources from Public Health Ontario.

For homes not in outbreak every month the essential visitors, general visitors, and personal care service providers must verbally attest to have:

Read/Re-reading the following documents:

Watched/Re-watched the following Public Health Ontario videos:

Surveillance testing is the proactive COVID-19 testing of individuals. Surveillance testing helps WECHU better understand the current state of COVID-19 infections in our region. The test results provide a snapshot of current infections and are used to track where the virus has spread. WECHU follows up immediately with homes and individuals (staff) if there is a positive test result.

Homeless Shelters & Group Homes/Co-Living Settings FAQs

Unless you are a healthcare facility, personal protective equipment should be ordered through your regular supplier. A list of PPE suppliers is available on the Ontario’s Workplace PPE Supplier Directory webpage.

  • Routine cleaning followed by disinfection is a best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Facilities should follow their protocols for regular cleaning and disinfection.
  • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. Check the expiry date before using cleaners and disinfectants, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use to ensure their effectiveness.
  • In addition to routine cleaning, high-touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least once per day, and when visibly dirty. Examples of high-touch surfaces include doorknobs, handrails, light switches, toilet handles, and faucet handles.
  • Recommend posting a cleaning and disinfecting schedule
  • Remove shared items that are difficult to clean.

For more information about cleaning and disinfecting for co-living settings:

If the facility is NOT in outbreak:

  • Staff and visitors should wear a non-medical mask (e.g. cloth mask) at all times except when eating or alone in a private space.
  • Residents should wear a non-medical mask (e.g. cloth mask) as all times if healthy and have no symptoms of COVID-19.
    • If resident has symptoms or has been directed to isolate, a medical mask should be worn.

If the facility is IN Outbreak:

  • Staff and visitors should wear a medical mask as all times except when eating or alone in a private space.
  • Eye protection and gowns should be worn when interacting with residents. Gloves should be worn when providing direct care to a resident (e.g. bathing, feeding).
  • Residents should wear a medical mask at all times.

For a helpful guidance document from Public Health Ontario that outlines PPE requirements in congregate living settings, please review “COVID-19: Personal Protective Equipment and Non-Medical Masks in Congregate Settings

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