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Long-term Care Homes & Shelters

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

Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes FAQs

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

There are no specific limitations on the number of visitors who can visit a resident indoors or outdoors at a long-term care home. Homes’ policies should ensure there is the ability for adequate physical distancing between groups and persons (as required) and that public health measures are being followed.

Residents have a right under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, to receive visitors and homes should not develop policies that unreasonably restrict this right. It is expected that, at a minimum, residents could receive two general visitors and two caregivers at a time (unless the resident is isolating or in an area of a home with an outbreak).

The indoor and outdoor “gathering limits” set out under regulations governing the province’s Roadmap to Reopen made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19covid 19) Act, 2020 do not apply with respect to visitors coming to a long-term care home.

Per Directive #3, homes must maintain visitor logs of all visits to the home. The visitor log must include, at minimum:

  • the name and contact information of the visitor
  • time and date of the visit
  • the purpose of the visit (for example, name of resident visited)

These visitor logs or records must be kept for a period of at least 30 days and be readily available to the local public health unit for contact tracing purposes upon request.

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.

As of July 15, 2021, fully-immunized and asymptomatic staff, caregivers and visitors are NOT required to be surveillance tested before entering long-term care homes (Reference: Ontario Updates Testing Requirements at Long-Term Care Homes – News Release)

Please review Ontario’s “COVID-19: Long-Term care home surveillance testing and access to homes” webpage for specific guidance related to surveillance testing in Long-Term Care Homes for those who are not exempt from testing.

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.

Anyone not living at the home that is that does not pass the screen or is showing symptoms of COVID-19 must not be allowed to enter or leave the home and must be advised to go home immediately to self-isolate and be encouraged to get tested.

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 twice 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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