B.C. expected to provide update on long-term care home visits

B.C. health officials are expected to provide an update Thursday afternoon on visits in long-term care homes.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. PT. CBC News will live-stream the announcement. 

Premier John Horgan said Wednesday that Henry would provide an update on restrictions in long-term care facilities, which were among the hardest hit during B.C.’s first and second waves.

The majority of staff and residents have since been vaccinated.

The province currently allows residents to see one person at a time — a “designated” visitor — in a common area, either indoors or outdoors. The visits must be booked in advance and visitors must talk to their loved ones from at least two metre away. 

CBC News obtained documents last week that suggested at least one health region is expected to loosen COVID-19 protocols fro seniors in care. 

The documents from Vancouver Coastal Health say facilities in that region would allow residents to name one designated social visitor.

That visitor would be allowed physical contact with residents. They would also be allowed to bring food and pets into the facilities and take residents away for outings.

The province’s seniors advocate has called for more social visits in long-term care homes.

A report from Isobel Mackenzie’s office last fall found residents had used more anti-psychotic medications while restrictions were in place. 

They had also suffered a spike in unexplained weight loss, worsening moods and symptoms of depression. 

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