fbpx
Saturday , 27 November 2021

Alberta to start lifting remaining continuing care restrictions

Thanks to vaccines, Alberta can take the next step in safely lifting restrictions in continuing care while keeping some rules in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

To support the health and safety of residents and staff, Alberta’s government will take a two-phase approach for easing remaining measures provincewide.

The first phase will lift remaining visitor restrictions, current limits to dining and recreation activities, and additional screening for residents who go off-site. Outbreak protocols, single-site staffing and other measures will remain in place until further notice.

There are currently only six active cases in continuing care facilities provincewide. Since December 2020, there has been a 99 per cent decrease in the number of active cases of COVID-19 among staff and residents in these facilities.

To date, more than 90 per cent of Albertans over the age of 70 have received at least one dose of vaccine and 87 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses.

“Residents and their family members have made tremendous sacrifices over the course of this pandemic,” Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health said. “Thanks to the power of vaccines, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Residents can resume many of the activities they once loved to do and have more opportunities to connect with their loved ones.”

These changes apply to all:

  • Licensed supportive living facilities (including group homes, lodges and designated supportive living
  • Long-term care facilities (nursing homes and auxiliary hospitals)
  • Hospice settings

“This is a measured, practical approach that lifts restrictions in an incremental manner as our vaccination rates continue to climb,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health said.The restrictions lifted today will go a long way to improving residents’ quality of life while critical protections will remain in place to protect their health.”

The first phase of reduced health restrictions in continuing care comes into effect as soon as operators are able to make any necessary changes. These adjustments focus on lifting restrictions that now present a low to medium risk due to the high rates of vaccination in these facilities. Lifted restrictions include:

  • Visitors will no longer be limited in number or conditions.
    • Visitors will still need to be screened for symptoms or known exposure upon entering a facility and wear masks in all common areas.
    • It is strongly recommended that visitors who have not yet been fully vaccinated, including children under age 12, wear their mask continuously and in all areas of the building.
  • All limits to dining and recreation activities for residents are removed.
  • Residents are no longer required to be screened upon re-entering the building or are required to quarantine if they have gone off-site. However, in specific circumstances, such as returning from an outbreak unit of a health-care facility, residents who are not fully vaccinated may be required to quarantine.

Facility operators have until July 31 to fully implement these changes.

Other restrictions and rules will remain in place to protect the health and safety of residents and staff, including:

  • Screening upon entry and continuous masking for staff, students, volunteers and service providers
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection routines in common areas
  • Single-site staffing requirements
  • Testing guidelines
  • Isolation and quarantine protocols
  • Outbreak procedures

These remaining restrictions may be lifted in Phase 2 at a later date.

Alberta’s two-phase approach was informed by extensive feedback from continuing care operators, Alberta Health Services and from more than 2,000 residents, family members and others who participated in telephone town halls in late June.

[email protected]

About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner!