Family members of residents in LTC are important partners in care. Supporting the presence and engagement of family and friends of residents requires deliberate planning and thorough communication with residents, families and team members. This resource card has compiled some tools to aid homes as they plan for, co-ordinate and support visits. Please check back regularly for updates as the pandemic and directives evolve.
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Types of Visitors in Long-Term Care
The Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care states that LTC homes are responsible for supporting residents in receiving visitors while mitigating the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Further, homes are responsible for establishing and implementing visiting practices that comply with Directive #3 and align with the guidance in this policy. The Ministry defines different types of visitors:
A caregiver* is a type of essential visitor who is designated by the resident and/or their substitute decision-maker and is visiting to provide direct care to the resident (for example, supporting feeding, mobility, personal hygiene, cognitive stimulation, communication, meaningful connection, relational continuity and assistance in decision-making). *Note: Some LTC homes have adopted the language of care partner, rather than caregiver, and use the term ‘designated care partner.’
A support worker is a type of essential visitor who is visiting to perform essential support services for the home or for a resident at the home.
Examples of support workers include physicians, nurse practitioners, maintenance workers or a person delivering food, provided they are not staff of the LTC home as defined in the LTCHA.
A general visitor is a person who is not an essential visitor and is visiting:
- to provide non-essential services, who may or may not be hired by the home or the resident and/or their substitute decision maker; and/or
- for social reasons that the resident or their substitute decision-maker assess as different from direct care, including care related to cognitive stimulation, meaningful connection and relational continuity
From the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s COVID-19: Visiting Long-Term Care Home’s document and Directive #3.
Family Engagement Resources
~10 minutes | Mealtime is a highlight of the day for many residents and critical for health (nutrition, safety, and social opportunity). These resources will help you to safely support a safe and rewarding mealtime with residents.
~30 minutes | This eLearning module will introduce families to the Huddle Tool, a set of five simple questions that families can use to effectively and efficiently share any experience, situation, or need with you over the telephone, especially when you can’t meet in person. Share this with your family council and residents’ family members!
The Partners in Care Toolkit, developed by the Ontario Caregivers Organization and Change Foundation, provides downloadable and customizable resources for LTC homes. The resources include caregiver ID badges and stickers, a pledge that outlines the responsibility of the home and caregivers, and a one-page overview of what family caregivers can expect when they arrive in LTC.
The content was prepared by Family Councils Ontario, the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils, and Tech Coaches Inc for LTC homes, residents and families to stay connected during social isolation. Includes examples of video calling initiatives that have launched with success since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
This webinar recording explores the current research evidence that links social connection to mental health outcomes for LTC residents and shares twelve strategies to build and maintain social connection for residents in LTC – both during COVID-19 and beyond. Learn about the findings from a knowledge exchange project conducted by researchers at The KITE Research Institute (University Health Network) together with Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO), Family Councils Ontario (FCO) and the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils (OARC).
Better physical and mental health and well-being is associated with good social connectedness. Strategies to support social connectedness have unique considerations for people living in LTC homes. Explore an infographic developed by EnCOAR (Enhancing the Care of the Older Adult), a research team at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. This infographic is available in English and French. LTC homes can request (free) printed copies of the infographic from the EnCOAR website.
Public Health Ontario has resources to support education and training for visitors on Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The Recommended Steps: Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provides instructions with visuals. The videos below support the education of essential visitors and general visitors:
Developed by The Ottawa Hospital, this video was created to assist family caregivers who are entering long-term care or palliative care units to provide care to their family members during the COVID-19 pandemic. This video offers a demonstration of how to safely put on and take off (don and doff) personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care has a series of documents for long-term care homes to help explain the latest provincial visiting guidelines and policies.
AdvantAge Ontario has developed and curated a variety of resources to support all Ontario LTC homes during COVID-19. You will find resources on the following topics: communicating with families and residents, physical distancing during meal times, visiting of residents, resident isolation, infection prevention and control, and management of medical conditions. Take a look at the information on visiting residents under the subheading Best Practices for Visiting. They provide procedural documents, ideas for outdoor activities, how to communicate with families about outdoor visits, posters and more.