Ontario long-term care homes are no longer under lockdown
120 residents of the Lakeside Long-Term Care Center in Toronto have been released after some were confined to their rooms for as long as a month.
Family members complained to CTV News last week about the excessive measures that put residents in long-term quarantine after employees tested positive for COVID-19. The residents have tested negative multiple times and have been vaccinated three times.
After discussions with Toronto Public Health and Extendicare, the organization that administers the long-term care facility (LTC), restrictions were eased, allowing residents to take short walks in the hallways.
Resident Jennifer Brown said in a Zoom interview with CTV News: “I took a deep breath and I yelled ‘freedom’. The 83-year-old had previously described her month of quarantine to CTV News as a form of “isolation”.
According to Toronto Public Health guidelines, every time an employee on their floor tests positive, all residents are asked to enter their rooms.
In addition to being able to walk in the corridors, the new regulations will allow people to shower and bathe. According to the old regulations, residents were only allowed to shower in bed.
Additionally, only residents who test positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to stay in their rooms until requested by health officials.
“I was just, I had fun. I was happy to hear that people were going to leave their rooms,” Mea Renahan said in a phone call with CTV News.
She is a much-needed carer for her 105-year-old mother Marita of Lakeside, and has been devastated to see the decline of other residents in captivity.
“I could see a change in residents just two days after leaving their room,” says Renahan.
She describes seeing fully mobile residents before incarceration who became debilitated. She said they were taking the tentative steps in the hallway.
“Many people still have a long way to go to recovery and, as in the past, they probably won’t make a full return,” she added.
The outbreak process changes don’t apply to other long-term care homes, but Renahan hopes other families will push for the change.
The district health board also let family members know of the Lakeside case prompting discussions with the provincial Health Department.
In an email from provincial health authorities to families of Lakeside residents, they said they will “review and update COVID protocols for LTC.”
The key will be to balance precautions with the risk of transmission.
“We understand how important it is to maintain ongoing opportunities to move and socialize within the family during an outbreak,” wrote Erin Hannah, deputy minister for long-term care pandemic response. in an email to Renahan and Extendicare representatives.
Dr Samir Sinha, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said the changes in Lakeside were “positive news”.
“The approved protocols in this home will and certainly have significantly improved the quality of life of the occupants of the house,” he wrote in an email to CTV News.
But Dr Sinha warned that with increased activity, there could be a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission to residents and staff, as Omicron could still infect fully vaccinated people.
In Ontario, there are now more than 1,500 resident and 22 permanent resident deaths in the past seven days. Outbreaks have been reported in 1,485 LTC and retirement facilities across Canada.