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COVID-19 Update: De-Escalation of Measures in Ontario Retirement Homes

February 8, 2022

COVID-19-Blog

Hello everyone,

I am happy to share that the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility (MSAA) Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility and the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority (RHRA) released a new direction today regarding the de-escalation of measures in retirement homes. These changes will be reflected immediately in Seasons communities in Ontario, provided the home is not in an outbreak.

Please find below highlights:

Outbreak Definition

Seasons welcomes the Ministry’s tightening of the definition as it will assist with unnecessary restrictions for our residents when there is a broader community spread. The new definition of an outbreak is now:

  • Two or more tested and confirmed (staff/resident/other visitor) cases in a home with reasonable evidence they were acquired within the home in a 10-day period.
  • There is a risk of transmission to residents within the home.

High-Risk and Lower Risk Contact Definitions

New definitions for high-risk and lower-risk contacts include:

  • High-risk contacts (HRCs) are those residents who:
    • Were in contact with a positive case during their period of communicability.
    • Received direct care from a COVID-19 positive staff member or who had close prolonged contact with a positive case without appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Lower-risk contacts (LRCs) are fully vaccinated and boosted (third and fourth dose) residents who:
    • Were in contact with a positive case during their period of communicability.
    • Received direct care from a COVID-19 positive staff who was using PPE appropriately or who shared an indoor space with another positive case where public health measures (e.g., masking, physical distancing) were in place.

General Visitors

General Visitors will be permitted but limited to two individuals at one time. General Visitors will not have access if the home is:

  • Advised by the local public health unit (PHU) to stop due to greater community transmission.
  • The home is in an outbreak.
  • The resident they are visiting is in isolation and on droplet and contact precautions.

Visiting a Resident

Reminders about visiting a Seasons community:

  • Visits are to be scheduled in advance through Cubigo to ensure equitable access for all residents.
  • Visitors are required to:
    • Review all IPAC posters, links and videos on Cubigo at least monthly.
    • Complete the Health Screening Questionnaire on Cubigo before entering the home. Please note that the Ministry has updated their Screening Questionnaire, and those questions are now reflected on Mildred. You can find them here for reference.
    • Provide proof of vaccination for us to record this information as per the Ministry.
    • Complete a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and demonstrate a negative test result before entering the home. Visitors who have tested positive for COVID-19 but completed their quarantine may resume asymptomatic testing after 30 days from their infection. Proof of a positive test will be required to ensure the timing of resuming access and testing.
    • Provide their surgical mask and wear their mask throughout the entire duration of their visit.

Absences

Short-term Absences are no longer restricted to those deemed essential. Upon return to the home, all residents will be required to:

  • Complete the health screening questionnaire
  • Undergo a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)

Temporary (Overnight) will no longer be limited to essential outings and are permitted regardless of reasoning. Upon return to the home, all residents will be required to:

  • Complete the health screening questionnaire.
  • Undergo a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).
  • Perform a PCR test on day five after the day they return. If a timely PCR test is not available, on day 5 of return 2 RATs 24 hours apart may be used as an alternative.

Social Gathering and Organized Events

Seasons is pleased to share that social gathering and organized events are once again permitted in our homes with the following considerations:

  • Residents are asked to wear a medical mask while outside of their suite.
  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Gather in groups of the same individuals for social gatherings, organized events and dining to limit interactions and reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Fully vaccinated Designated Essential Visitors may also attend.
  • General Visitors may only participate if they are fully vaccinated, pass active screening and demonstrate a negative antigen point-of-care test.

I want to thank all of our team members, residents, families and friends who have continued to champion the vaccination program and IPAC protocols. I understand that this has taken a tremendous toll on you and, at times, has been very frustrating with the Local Public Health (LPHU) often superseding government mandates and directives. I can assure you that our Leadership teams in the homes are regularly advocating with the LPHU. I sit on the Operations Committee at the

Ontario Retirement Communities Association and participate in the Retirement Home Technical Table with the MSSA, RHRA, ORCA and Public Health Ontario to regularly lobby for the health and wellbeing of our residents and team members.

Thank you all for the trust you have placed in Seasons Retirement Communities. We take our responsibility to you very seriously and will continue to make all decisions with our staff and residents’ best interests in mind.

Sincerely,

LeighAnne Voll
Chief Operating Officer,
Seasons Retirement Communities

For additional online resources for COVID-19 you can visit the following sites:

Canada Health
Alberta Health
Alberta Health Services
Public Health Ontario
Retirement Home Regulatory Authority

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