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Amica’s measures to protect 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 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, in 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 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

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 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.

 

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 October 13, 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 (no status, Alert, High Alert or Outbreak), some residents may also have General Visitors. Here’s how the status of a residence affects visits:   

Ontario Residences with No Alert/Outbreak status

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

Ontario Residences in Alert status

  • A resident may have both Essential Visitor/Caregivers visit, but only one may visit at a time.
  • General Visitors may visit, but only one at a time using the Designated Visitor Space provided at the residence.

Ontario Residences in High Alert or Outbreak status

  • 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

At the onset of the pandemic, all common areas were closed, including dining rooms, bistros, fitness centres, lounges, libraries, theatres, etc. We safely resumed the use of common spaces in June 2020 following an extensive review of internal operations.

Amica residences have reopened many common areas and resumed adapted group activities in a safe way that respects physical distancing. While group activities are temporarily 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 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.