Once again, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in both Ontario and Alberta. While news of the pandemic and its restrictions may be fatiguing, we cannot get complacent.
Even our retirement homes located in smaller, rural settings must be cautious, as many people in the greater community work or go to school in bigger cities where the virus is spreading.
As a result, we are reevaluating our retirement homes’ risk tolerance based on transmission in the community at large. We use a tool from Alberta Health Services to assess an individual home’s risk, and results may impact access for visitors and our residents’ ability to leave the premises for non-essential reasons. We will advise all residents and families should there be a change to any protocols in your Seasons Retirement Community.
For the retirement home sector, the Ontario government has established elevated alert areas (Alert and High Alert) based on the degree of COVID-19 transmission in a community and infection spread within retirement homes in the area.
Once per week, the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) will notify retirement residences of their alert level, which will result in infection prevention and control IPAC restrictions. Rest assured that Seasons will inform residents and family members if your retirement community has been placed in Alert or High Alert status.
The decision to move a retirement community into Alert or High Alert status is a determination made in concert with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility and the RHRA. Factors in triggering these alert statuses include community transmission and percentage of homes in the region in outbreak or total number of homes in outbreak in the region (whichever is higher). An additional factor is whether a number of homes have more than two active cases.
For clarity, we have developed the following chart to outline how the Alert statuses impact visits and leaving the premises in our Ontario retirement residences:
|General Visitor||Maximum of 1||Not permitted|
(Designated Family/Support Person/Caregiver)
|Maximum of 1||Maximum of 1|
|Hairdresser||Not permitted||Not permitted|
|Leaving the Retirement Residence||Essential appointments and needs only
No overnight absences
|Essential appointments and needs only
No overnight absences
|Social activities||Not permitted||Not permitted|
Seasons has updated its Safe Visit policy and definitions to ensure that our residents and team members remain safe while maintaining access for those that are in greatest need. Seasons remains committed to Indoor, Outdoor and Extenuating Visits. We expanded our policy to add a Designated Family/Support Person/Caregiver. One such individual may continue to visit during alert and high alert status.
A Designated Family/Support Person/Caregiver may be a family member, friend, companion (privately paid or volunteer), support worker (privately paid or volunteer), power of attorney/trustee, agent, legal guardian, or any other person identified. A reminder that this type of “visitor” would be deemed essential and as such, provides direct care which may include:
- Supporting feeding
- Personal hygiene
- Cognitive stimulation
- Meaningful connection
- Relational continuity
- Assistance in decision making
The Designated Family/Support Person/Caregiver MUST:
- Be identified by the resident and/or substitute decision-maker
- Schedule all visits ahead of time
- Remain consistent
- Be educated in all IPAC protocols, specifically donning & doffing of PPE
- Adhere to all IPAC protocols or risk being declined further visits
We know people are tired of COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on our daily lives, all across the country. Seasons values the contributions families make to the happiness and wellbeing of our residents. We do not enjoy restricting visits, pausing activities or limiting our independent residents’ rights to come and go as they please. The truth is, this virus sneaks in anytime someone makes an exception to the public health measures, and that has enormous implications for our resident population. We must remain vigilant.
Thank you, Seasons Team Members, for your unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our residents and your fellow team members. Residents and families, thank you for your patience, understanding and kindness shown to our team members. I assure you, there is no greater priority than the health, safety and well-being of everyone who lives and works with us.
Chief Operating Officer
For additional online resources for COVID-19 you can visit the following sites: