Amica’s measures to protect against COVID-19
The health and well-being of our residents, families and team members is our foremost priority. We have been taking safety measures since early 2020 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, made up of senior support office team members in wellness, operations and communications, meets daily to assess risk, review operations and procurement, and plan for how 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 authorities 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, 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 are practicing frequent hand washing, avoiding touching their face, limiting contact with others and maintaining physical distancing by staying at least 2 m (6 ft.) from another person.
Protective measures for team members
During the last week of March, 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 a mask for the duration of their shift, as part of Amica’s universal masking campaign.
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.
We know this is difficult for residents and families, but visitor restrictions are in place in Alberta at the time of writing (July 2, 2020). In the interest of everyone’s safety, we 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.
Ontario and British Columbia
Effective June 18, 2020, Ontario lifted its visitor restrictions for seniors’ residences. On June 30, 2020, British Columbia announced it would be lifting its visitor restrictions for seniors’ residences within 7 to 10 days. 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:
Visits are scheduled in advance in designated visitor areas
Hand hygiene is frequently practiced
If a residence is in an outbreak, visits cannot occur
Visiting areas are disinfected between visits
All visitors wear a surgical/procedure mask
In Ontario, visitors must attest to having a negative COVID-19 test result within 14 days of the visit.
Anyone who enters the residence is screened for health, travel and temperature before entering.
Physical distancing for meals and activities
At the onset of the pandemic, all common areas were closed, including dining rooms, bistros, fitness centres, lounges, libraries, theatres, etc. We began our internal ReSTART (or re-opening) of common spaces in June 2020 following an extensive review of internal operations.
At the time of writing (July 2, 2020), most Amica residences have begun to reopen some common areas and ReSTART adapted group activities in a safe way that respects physical distancing.
A residence must not be in outbreak when ReSTART occurs, and in Ontario mass-testing must be completed.
Follow us on Facebook 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 launched #smilesforseniors, an inspiring social campaign to brighten everyone’s day. We invite you to join the movement and learn more at www.smilesforseniors.ca.
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.