Care homes begin using co-visitation shelters

Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

January 16, 2021, 3:36 pm

Co-visitation shelter at Fairview Personal Care Home in Brandon, visitor's entrance.

Many of the province’s co-visitation shelters at personal care homes began operating this week, while some still await permits.

Most, however, have permits in place, Shared Health chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said Thursday.

Of the 125 care homes in the province, 43 are in the Prairie Mountain Health region. Some, such as those in Hamiota, Dauphin and Souris, have been outfitted with internal visitation shelters. Others, such as those in Deloraine, Neepawa and Brandon, have been outfitted with external visitation shelters.

“The (personal care home) numbers continue to improve, so they want to encourage visitation as much as possible,” Siragusa said.

The external, all-season shelters have been carefully developed and constructed with every COVID-19 precaution to allow residents to safely and comfortably participate in social visits with family members and loved ones, a provincial spokesperson stated by email.

External and internal shelters have dedicated ventilation systems designed to ensure the required level of air changes, filtration and directional airflow to support the safety of both residents and families, the spokesperson added. Interior surfaces were selected to complement and facilitate ongoing cleaning and disinfection occurring between visits.

As well, the shelters are designed so that visitors enter from outside of the building and are not required to travel through the care home, limiting exposure to residents and staff. The designated interior spaces were developed with similar precautions in place.

While the province continues under critical level red restrictions, the shelters can accommodate a maximum of one general visitor at a time visiting with one personal care home resident. Visitor screening for symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19 remains in place, and masks must be worn by visitors and residents. Physical distancing must also be maintained for the duration of the visit.

Visits are by appointment only, with more details available from individual personal care homes in the coming days, according to the spokesperson.