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Compassionate Care Visitor Guidelines – Long-term Care, Affiliates, Personal Care Homes

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitor/family presence is being limited to compassionate reasons only in Saskatchewan Health Authority long-term care facilities, affiliates and personal care homes, effective November 19, 2020. No other visitors are allowed into these facilities or homes at this time. These limitations will remain in place until December 17, 2020, when they will be reviewed by the Chief Medical Health Officer of Saskatchewan. 

These guidelines apply to long-term care homes, affiliates and personal care homes. Acute care facilities are not included in these guidelines, unless expressly stated for individual acute care sites, within SHA service alerts.

Compassionate reasons may include family or support persons during end-of-life care, and long-term care or personal care home residents whose quality of life or care needs are unmet. 

One healthy visitor is allowed at a time for in-person visits for compassionate reasons. This can include a spouse, common-law spouse, child or stepchild, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or a support person with whom the resident has had an equivalent relationship.

The decision to restrict visitor/family presence is not taken lightly. These measures are in place to keep you, your loved ones and health care workers safe. Your support and cooperation will help contain the spread of the virus.  

  • Two family members or support persons can be identified to support patients and residents.
  • Only one family member or support person can be present in the facility at a time.
  • Two people can be present at one time if physical distancing can be maintained for end of life/palliative care patients or residents.
  • Additional family members or support persons may be identified for end of life, palliative and intensive/critical care, as outlined in the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) Family Presence Guidelines.

The Family Presence Policy applies to patients, outpatients, clients and residents in SHA facilities, long term care homes and affiliate organizations, personal care homes and Ministry of Social Services Group Homes.

More information can be found in the SHA Family Presence Guidelines.

All community, foundation and other public and spiritual gatherings within any SHA-operated facility remain on hold until further notice. Services provided by community volunteers who are 65 years of age or older, in non-essential service areas, are also suspended.

We recognize how difficult this time is for patients and families. The decision to continue to limit visitation is guided by the need to protect our patients and health care teams during COVID-19.

Family members and support people who are identified must undergo a health screening prior to entering the facility. This may include a temperature check and questionnaire. The visitor will be required to perform hand hygiene (hand washing and/or use of hand sanitizer) when entering and leaving the facility and when entering and leaving the patient's room. Visitors will also be required to wear a medical grade mask, if tolerated while inside the facility and potentially additional personal protective equipment if required. Visitors are not permitted to wait in waiting rooms or other common areas.

NOTE: Patients and residents should NOT leave the care facility to visit family or friends or for any other reason unless this is an established outdoor visit. Patient day passes, essential appointments and access to healing centres will be determined in consultation with the care team.

Personal Items

Food and beverages can be delivered to or brought into SHA facilities. The following guidelines need to be followed:

  • Food, beverage and other items are individually packaged in a container which can be wiped down with disinfectant wipes upon entry into the facility;
  • Perform hand hygiene;
  • Make every effort to practice physical distancing when eating (maintain distance of 2 metres); and,
  • Food made in a residential kitchen can be accepted if brought in a container that can easily be wiped down with disinfectant wipes upon entry into the facility/home.

A designated support person or family member can be identified to accompany a certified service animal if needed.

Delivery – Delivery in the form of flowers from a florist or dry paper (i.e. letters, photos, art work) is permitted in LTC homes and acute care sites. In some acute care settings, such as Intensive Care Units (ICU), floral arrangements are not permitted due to possible pollen or plant allergens. Families will be asked to consult with managers or staff prior to placing orders for the delivery of any purchased floral arrangements and to follow existing scent-free policies. Please note that dry paper goods will be held for 24 hours before delivery to patients/clients/residents.

Virtual Visiting

Until we are able to safely return to open family presence in our health care facilities, we encourage you to consider other ways to stay connected with your family members or friends in our hospitals and long-term care facilities, such as phone calls or online means of communication. We encourage families to consider virtual visiting through electronic applications such as FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp. We are asking families and visitors for their co-operation in following these restrictions.

When Restrictions to Family Presence are Needed:

There may be situations in which Family Presence will need to be temporarily restricted to compassionate care reasons or even further restricted. These restrictions may occur because of an outbreak at the facility/home or due to a change in the community spread/epidemiology of COVID-19 as decided by the local Medical Health Officer.

During these times, compassionate care reasons may include, but are not limited to, family or support persons during end-of-life care, major surgery, intensive care/critical care, maternal/pediatrics, or a care partner aiding in clinical care (at the discretion of the patient's care provider). Please refer to Compassionate Care Reasons for Family Presence for more information.

Understanding that it is difficult for families to have loved ones in hospital or other care areas, we are working to support families with virtual visitation options, including making phones available in hospitals and iPads more accessible to long-term care residents to assist with virtual visiting.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

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