COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

Long-term Care, Retirement, and Group Home Settings

Note: Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes should contact their infectious disease representative at Lambton Public Health with any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 or other infectious diseases.

COVID-19 in Assisted Living Facilities

Information for families, residents, and front line staff.

Long-term Care Facilities

Visiting Long-term Care

Homes must meet the following conditions before they welcome visitors:

  • Must not be in outbreak. If a home enters an outbreak, all non-essential visits must end.
  • Have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and the associated safety procedures with residents, families, visitors, and staff.
  • Maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.
  • Homes should establish practices that allow for equitable access to visits for all residents as well as consider the space, staffing, and capacity available to the home.
  • Homes may regulate the number of visitors to the home at any one time.
  • Each home should maintain a list of visitors that is available for relevant staff members to access.

Each visitor must complete the following before each visit:

  • Pass an active screening questionnaire. 
  • Comply with infection prevention and control (IPAC) protocols     

Please note that there are different requirements for outdoor and indoor visits Outdoor Visits:

  • Up to visitors are allowed at a time.
  • Visitors are responsible for bringing their own face covering for outside visits. The home is responsible for supplying masks for those who do not have a face covering.
  • Attestation of testing is not required for outdoor visits. 

Indoor Visits (Effective as of July 22, 2020):

  • Visitors must verbally attest to home staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the last two weeks and not subsequently tested positive.
  • Up to visitors are allowed at a time.
  • Visitors must wear a surgical/procedure face mask at all times. The home is responsible for supplying masks for indoor visitors.

*Non-adherence to these rules will be the basis for discontinuation of visits

Resident Absences in Long-Term Care

According to Directive #3 issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, residents are now able to leave their Long-term Care facility for short stay and temporary absences.

Short Stay Absences:

  • Residents are now able to leave for short stay absences (an absence that is not overnight) for health care, social, or other reasons. After returning to the home, residents must be actively screened but do not need to be tested for COVID-19 or self-isolate
    • Emergency room visits that take place over a single night should also be considered a short stay absence and not require testing or self-isolation upon return. If the resident is admitted to the hospital at any time or the emergency room visit takes place over two or more nights, homes should follow the re-admission process.
  • Residents must be provided with a medical mask to be worn at all times when outside of the home.

Temporary Absences:

  • Temporary absences (for one or more nights) may be permitted for residents at the discretion of the home, who will approve based on a case by case risk assessment.  Residents will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after returning.  
  • If the temporary absence request is denied, the home must communicate the rationale for this decision to the resident/substitute decision maker in writing.

Resources & Guidance

Provincial Emergency Orders

What can I do if I work in a long-term care home in an outbreak and I feel unsafe?

  • The Ministry of Health has precautions and guidelines that must be followed to ensure the health and safety of staff and residents.  Review this information and speak to your Director of Care or Health and Safety Representative if you have concerns.
  • If you have any pre-existing health conditions, our recommendation would be for you to consult with your primary health care provider as well as your employer to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Retirement Homes

Visiting Retirement Homes

We resume indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas or resident suites when physical distancing can be maintained.

Each visitor must complete the following before each visit:

  • Pass an active screening questionnaire
  • Visitors must comply with infection prevention and control protocols (i.e. wearing a face covering during visits).
  • Visitors should wear a face covering/mask at all times. If the visit is indoors, a surgical/procedure mask is required. Visitors are responsible for bringing their own coverings/masks. If they do not bring their own face covering/mask, they cannot visit.
  • Physical distancing will be required for all visits.
  • In the event of an outbreak, non-essential visits will be restricted again.

If you have a loved one you want to visit in either a long term care or retirement home, it is important that you contact the facility in advance to arrange your visit accordance with their policies and protocols. Everyone is asked to be cautious and act responsibly, COVID-19 is not over and risk still remains.

More detailed resources for resuming visits specific to each setting can be bound below:

Resources & Guidance