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Long-term care homes allowed to resume communal dining, social activities

Last Updated May 4, 2021 at 5:16 pm EDT

A long-term care home. (Photo by Jonas Güttler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Long-term care homes in Ontario will be allowed to resume communal dining and social activities while still adhering to social distancing and masking protocols as vaccination rates rise.

The provincial government says with the high vaccination rates, they are able to make these changes to improve residents’ quality of life.

Homes that have have met a 85 per cent resident and 70 per cent employee immunization coverage rate will be allowed to resume communal dining and indoor social activities.

As of May 4, 95 per cent of residents have been fully immunized and more than 85 per cent of staff have received at least one dose.

Long-term care homes can allow physical touch between caregivers and residents who are fully vaccinated, like hugging and holding hands, and will also allow caregivers to take loved ones outside their room, including walks inside the home and outdoors.

Dining will be allowed with the following precautions:

  • When not eating or drinking, residents should be encouraged to wear a mask where possible or tolerated;
  • Residents are to be cohorted and seating arrangements consistent;
  • No buffet style service, no shared use of serving spoons, no shared utensils, etc.;
  • Frequent hand hygiene of residents and staff or essential caregivers or volunteers assisted with feeding should be undertaken and;
  • Two-metre physical distancing between all diners is to be maintained and capacity limits of the dining room/area are to be reduced.

All long-term care homes can have indoor organized events and social gathering with the following precautions:

  • cohorting
  • masking, including for residents where possible or tolerated
  • avoiding high risk activities (for example, singing)

Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, further direction on whether social and temporary outings will be allowed for fully immunized residents will be issued.

Under this new directive, all residents, regardless of their immunization status, are allowed to leave their homes on an essential absence, which includes outdoor exercise, buying groceries, or visiting the pharmacy, while the stay-at-home order is in place.

There are still no general visitors allowed and only one essential caregiver is permitted while the province remains in a shutdown.