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Amica’s measures to protect and vaccinate against COVID-19

The health and well-being of our residents, families and team members are our foremost priorities. We have been taking safety measures and conducting vaccinations in adherence with public health authorities to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus. At the forefront of all our decisions is the balance between our residents’ and team members’ safety and their overall physical and mental well-being.

Our COVID-19 Command Taskforce, comprised of senior leaders and team members in wellness, operations and communications, meets daily to assess risk, review operations, procurement and public health updates, and plan to best protect our residents and team members from COVID-19 while ensuring residents continue to enjoy the best quality of life possible.

 

Following public health requirements

Amica leaders are in constant communication with public health to implement the latest safety measures and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), provincial and local health authorities.

We do not just meet provincial public health and safety requirements for senior living operators, we exceed them with our own extra precautions. For example, in 2020’s wave 1, we proactively implemented essential visitor screening and closed communal spaces in residences before it was required. This was a step we took as an extra precaution to ensure the safety of our residents and team members.

Residents are observed daily for typical and atypical signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or any other changes.

While team members are at home and at the residence, they practice frequent hand washing, avoid touching their face, limit contact with others and maintain physical distancing by staying at least 2 m (6 ft.) from another person. (Read protective measures for team members below.)

 

Organizing vaccinations

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread and reduce the impact of infectious diseases, whether it's seasonal flu or childhood diseases. The safe, Health Canada–approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will save lives by protecting Canadians from contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to others. These vigorously tested vaccines are in full use in 37 countries around the world, with 15.6 million doses administered as of January 6, 2021.

At Amica, we are working with public health to vaccinate residents, team members, essential family visitors and/or essential care partners at every residence as swiftly as possible. Vaccination roll-out timing is dependent on regional public health vaccine supplies and eligibility requirements. (Read more about COVID-19 vaccination from Health Canada.) 

 

Protective measures for team members

In late March 2020, we fully enacted dedicated staffing at all Amica residences. This means we prohibited staff-sharing with other residences and care homes. Our team members committed to work at one Amica residence only, and no other facilities.

Where appropriate, we have adopted 12-hour shifts to reduce the number of people coming and going from our residences each day.

To limit interactions, we’re using cohorting where possible: each team member is working with a specific group of residents.

Every Amica team member wears protective eyewear and a mask for the duration of their shift.

Team members with symptoms, or those that may have had contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, stay home for a minimum of 14 days’ self-isolation with pay.

Team members are being vaccinated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible, dependent on regional public health vaccine supplies and eligibility requirements. 

 

Visitor restrictions

 

Alberta

We know this is difficult for residents and families, but visitor restrictions are in place in Alberta. In the interest of everyone’s safety, the government allows us to make just three exceptions for:

  • Essential visitors: family members with loved ones at end-of-life;
  • Approved external care providers: health care aides/PSWs who have agreed to restrict their activities to one Amica residence only; and
  • Essential visiting health care professionals.

Designated support person: A resident can designate two people (including family members) as designated support people. Family members who are not designated support people may visit in a designated visitor space provided at each residence. 

 

Ontario

The new Ontario Retirement Home COVID-19 Visiting Policy took effect December 11, 2020. Unlike wave 1, the provincial government is calling for more targeted protective measures to protect seniors. Certain measures will only apply in geographic areas where they see community transmission and infection spread within the sector. 

At all times, loved ones who are designated as Essential Visitor/Caregivers may visit a resident. Depending on the status of a residence (Prevent – Green, Protect – Yellow, Restrict – Orange, Control – Red, Lockdown – Grey, or Outbreak), some residents may also have General Visitors. Here’s how the status of a residence affects visits: 

 

Ontario Residences in Prevent – Green status (not in outbreak)

  • Both Essential Visitors/Caregivers may visit, either together or separately.
  • General Visitors may visit.

Ontario Residences in Protect – Yellow status (not in outbreak)

  • Both Essential Visitors/Caregivers may visit, either together or separately.
  • General Visitors may visit.

Ontario Residences in Restrict – Orange status (not in outbreak)

  • A resident may have both Essential Visitor/Caregivers visit, but only one may visit at a time.
  • No General Visitors are permitted

Ontario Residences in Control – Red status (not in outbreak)

  • A resident may have both Essential Visitor/Caregivers visit, but only one may visit at a time.
  • No General Visitors are permitted.

Ontario Residences in Lockdown  – Grey status (not in outbreak)

  • A resident may have both Essential Visitor/Caregivers visit, but only one may visit at a time.
  • No General Visitors are permitted.

 

British Columbia

In British Columbia, one Designed Visitor per resident may visit in a Designated Visitor Space. No other on-property visits are permitted by the government, however, we are connecting residents with their loved ones through window visits, balcony visits and visitor booths that keep residents and visitors physically divided while they socially connect. Essential Visitors for residents at end-of-life are permitted. BC has a limit on the number of Essential Visitors who may visit at one time. It varies between the regions, but families who wish to have more than the limited amount visit at once may seek approval on compassionate grounds. If a residence is in an Outbreak, additional  restrictions may be implemented as advised by the local public health.

We continue to keep residents, team members and families informed about changes to government directives and the impact on Amica’s visiting procedures in provinces where visits are allowed, including the following measures:

  • Visits are scheduled in advance in designated visitor areas.
  • Hand hygiene is frequently practiced.
  • Visiting areas are disinfected between visits.
  • All visitors wear a surgical/procedure mask.

 

Screening

Anyone who enters the residence is screened for health, travel and temperature before entering.

 

Physical distancing for meals and activities

The Amica COVID-19 Command Taskforce is constantly monitoring public health updates and responding to ensure the health and safety of all residents and team members. As such, common areas in residences have been closed at times, including dining rooms, bistros, fitness centres, lounges, libraries, theatres, etc. 

Whenever possible, we adapted group activities in a safe way with masks and physical distancing. While group activities have been adapted or suspended in several regions based on public health and provincial government directives, we continue to empower residents with a variety of ways to stay connected and entertained. Contact your Amica residence to learn more.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to see uplifting stories about how our teams continue to find creative and innovative ways to keep residents engaged.

To bring Canadians together at a time when seniors are at high risk of feeling isolated, we also launched #smilesforseniors, an inspiring social campaign to brighten everyone’s day. Learn more by reading Spreading joy and caring through Smiles for Seniors.

 

Infection prevention and control measures

Symptomatic residents, or those at risk for exposure, are isolated with droplet/contact precautions. Personal protective equipment (PPE) including a mask, gown, gloves and eye protection is implemented for those team members supporting affected residents.

Before entering the suite of an isolated resident, team members put on full PPE and discard the PPE after use, immediately upon exiting the room. This protocol allows team members and isolated residents to safely interact with each other, provides a safe living and working environment, and the reassurance that accompanies this level of care and duty, for everyone involved.

In addition to routine cleaning and disinfection, we have introduced enhanced cleaning measures throughout the day, to thoroughly sanitize high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, etc.

 

Maintaining health and safety is our top priority

We will continue to vigilantly review and exceed all public health guidelines and update Amica-wide and region-specific policies and procedures as required. We all have a part to play to protect each other from coronavirus, so follow your own regional guidelines and return to this page for updates.