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Alberta relaxes visiting restrictions in supportive living homes

May 13th, 2021

As of May 10th, due in part to a successful vaccination program, Alberta’s supportive living homes are opening to visitors once again. CMOH (Chief Medical Officer of Health) Order 16-2021 lays out updated regulations which allow for a higher number of ‘designated essential visitors’ and for social visitors. A majority of residents must vote in favour of sharing designated common areas with social visitors.

Residents vote 'yes' to social visitors

At Points West Living Heritage House in Vegreville, the vote wasn’t even close. Following a COVID-19 information meeting, residents voted 24 to 3 to lift the restrictions. “Residents are excited,” says General Manager Alexis Bauer. “They’ve felt so cooped up. They want their family and they want their friends; it means a lot to them.”

Rules in place to minimize risk

The decision doesn’t mean that doors are being flung open to all comers. Very clear rules are in place to minimize risk to residents, while still allowing the benefits of in-person contact.

  • All visits must be booked in advance with the community.
  • Each resident is able to designate four essential visitors who must restrict their visits to the resident’s suite or designated social visiting areas
  • Social visits in common areas are limited to members of a single household and are restricted to designated social visiting areas
  • All visitors must go through a COVID screening process prior to entry, and wear a mask fully covering the nose, mouth, and chin for the whole visit
  • Physical distancing of 2-metres must be kept between social visitors and residents at all times.
  • Many more considerations are detailed in the CMOH Order 16-2021
Diverse levels of access

As each of Points West Living supportive living communities in Alberta implements its own amended visitor protocols including residents’ votes and current risk factors, the different communities may have diverse levels of visitor access.

Alexis says Heritage House is fortunate that it has lots of space for social visiting. “Once we know somebody is coming, we will mark off a specific area in the main living room, or out in the courtyard,” she says. “We have lots of space, so it’s easy to social distance.”

Read the full details about the changes to visiting restrictions in the Alberta CMOH Order 16-2021.

Photo: Resident Alice Macahonic welcomes her first ‘social visitors’ at PWL Heritage House. Alice’s grandson, his wife and baby boy were able to visit in a designated corner of the community living room and go for a nice stroll outside. “She enjoyed their visit so much!” says Office Administrator, Jamie Mckain. “You could see the joy on her face and her eyes were lit up with excitement.”

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