MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – New provincial guidelines and standards for continuing care facilities, including regarding visits and trips outside facilities, are welcome, says Sam Smalldon, CAO of Mountain View Senior’s Housing (MVSH).
MVSH operates seniors’ lodges in Olds, Sundre, Didsbury and Carstairs.
Strict measures have been in place at all MVSH facilities since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, measures that included limits on visitation and rules requiring residents who leave facilities to self-isolate on their return.
New province-wide guidelines were implemented effective Sept. 17 to help ensure the mental as well as physical wellbeing of continuing care facility residents.
Individual providers, such as MVSH, are being given a degree of discretion in formulating new rules under the provincial guidelines.
Asked if MVSH residents have expressed a desire to see more leniency in terms of coming and going from facilities, Smalldon said, “I think they do. They have said it informally and casually because I think people are getting tired.
“Our biggest concern is getting complacent, so we have to being a balance between not being complacent and being more flexible. The guidelines we will produce will give us discretion to do that, we believe.”
Provincewide, each resident or alternate decision-maker may now identify up to two designated family or support persons who are essential to maintaining resident mental and physical health, and multiple residents may have the same designed family or support person.
As well, non-designated family or support persons may be allowed to visit following a determination on resident health and circumstance and risk tolerance assessment, and designated family or support persons are not required to be present for visits from others.
All visitors will need to take prevention measures, including hand washing, physical distancing and mask wearing indoors.
Residents who are not required to isolate will still be encouraged to stay on the facility property.
If a resident chooses to leave a facility property, he or she is responsible to wear a mask at all times, ensure safe transportation, maintain hand hygiene, and be screened upon reentry.
Under the new provincial guidelines residents moving into facilities or returning from outings will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days, conditional on risk assessment.
MVSH is now developing specific rules for its facilities under the new provincial guidelines, said Smalldon.
“We are currently in that process of developing those guidelines as to how to implement these definitive guidelines,” he said.
“Basically it is providing discretion on volunteers, site tours and personal choice services for residents. With discretion it allows us to apply our professional judgment without reducing the risk to residents.”
MVSH expects to meet the Sept. 17 guideline, he said.
“We are being careful. I kind of have the model that we tightened up quickly and I want to loosen up slowly basically because the community spread is increasing and all we can do is protect inside our facilities and on our properties,” he said.
There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at any MVSH facilities, he said.
The majority of COVID-19-related deaths in Canada have occurred in seniors housing facilities.