The Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19 guidance document for long-term care homes in Ontario
As of May 31, 2021
As part of ongoing efforts to encourage vaccination uptake, the ministry has introduced a new Minister’s Directive requiring homes to have a COVID-19 immunization policy. At a minimum, the home’s policy must require staff, student placements and volunteers to do one of three things:
• provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19
• provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19
• participate in an educational program approved by the licensee about the benefits of vaccination and risks of not being vaccinated if not providing proof of vaccination or a medical reason for not being vaccinated
The effective date of the Minister’s Directive is July 1, 2021.
For local COVID-19 vaccine information and updates visit www.GetTheVaccine.ca.
The Ontario Ministry of Health has developed Guidance for COVID-19 Immunization In Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes.
Long-term care COVID-19 immunization policy – Ontario Health Minister’s Directive: Long-term care home COVID-19 immunization policy
Learn about the rules for visiting long-term care and Retirement homes:
• COVID-19: Information for visitors to long-term care homes
• COVID-19: Visiting Long-term Care Homes
• Retirement Home COVID-19 Visiting Policy
COVID-19 Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) establishes procedures and precautions for visits to long-term care homes and retirement homes.
As of July 16th, the limits on the number of visitors to homes will be removed.
Visitors are required to follow public health measures including all infection prevention and control measures, as well as any other specific home policies during their visit.
Visits are not permitted if a resident:
• is symptomatic
• is isolating under droplet and contact precautions
• lives in an area of the home that is in an outbreak
Call the home for more information to:
• make sure the home is free of outbreaks
• get information on the home’s visitor policy and any other restrictions
Before visiting any resident for the first time, training should be provided to caregivers by the home on how to safely provide direct care. After visiting a resident for the first time and at least once every month after, the home should ask caregivers to verbally attest that they have re-read the home’s visitor policy.
The home’s visitor guidance should include the following Public Health Ontario training resources:
• Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Guidance Document
• Putting on Putting on One-Piece Facial Protection -Video
• Taking off One-Piece Facial Protection – Video
• How to Hand Wash – Video
According to Directive #3 issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, residents are able to leave their Long-term Care facility for short stay and temporary absences.
Effective July 16th, residents will be given the ability to go on absences, and off-site excursions for residents will be allowed to resume.
More information about the types of absences and current guidelines for absences can be found in the Ontario Health COVID-19 guidance document for Long-Term Care.
As per Directive 3, fully immunized residents are able to go on social or temporary absences, unless the resident:
• is in isolation on droplet and contact precautions
• resides in an area of the home that is in an outbreak
• is otherwise directed by the local public health unit
For all absences, residents must be:
• Provided with a medical mask when they are leaving the home
• Reminded to practice public health measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene when outside of the home
• Actively screened for symptoms upon their return to the home
• Residents who leave the home for an overnight absence (including temporary absences) are generally required to have a laboratory-based PCR COVID-19 test upon return and remain in isolation on droplet and contact precautions while their test result is pending.
• Welcome to our Home Long-Term Care Sign
• Limited Visits for Long-Term Care Sign
• Symptom screening for visitors (PDF) and residents (PDF)
• Universal mask use in health care (PDF)
• How to handwash (PDF) and how to handrub (PDF)
• Additional precautions
Testing Requirements and Frequency:
Homes are required to comply with the Minister’s Directive COVID-19: Long-term care home surveillance testing and access to homes, which provides testing and documentation requirements for support workers, caregivers and general visitors to gain entry to the home.
Testing update, effective July 16, 2021. Ontario is removing the requirement that fully-immunized and asymptomatic staff, caregivers and visitors be tested before entering long-term care homes.
• The definition of Fully immunized: At least 14 days have passed since an individual has received the final dose of a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine series. (e.g., two doses of a two-dose vaccine series)
• To prove full immunization a printed vaccine receipt or digital copy may be shown. Vaccination receipts are available to download or print through the provincial portal.
Infection prevention and control measures, including masking and active screening of all people entering homes, will continue to be required regardless of immunization status.
• COVID-19 Symptoms
• COVID-19 Test Requisition
• Testing for retirement homes recommendations (Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility)