Premier Doug Ford resumed his daily press briefing today after he and Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott had a brief COVID-19 scare yesterday. Luckily, they both tested negative for the virus. They were joined today by Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, to announce personal visits to long-term care, retirement and group homes will resume next week. Phased Visitation Plan for Long-Term Care Homes Starting June 18, family and friends will be able to visit loved ones living in long-term care homes, retirement homes, group homes and other residential-care settings that are not in outbreak. The new phased approach will allow visitation to be resumed under the following conditions:
Homes must not be in outbreak;
Homes must have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and the associated safety procedures; and
Homes must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.
For family members wishing to visit loved ones, they must have tested negative for COVID-19 in the past two weeks, pass an active screening questionnaire, clean their hands upon arrival and departure, wear a mask and stay in designated areas and maintain physical distance. Long-term care homes are to allow a minimum of one outdoor visitor per week per resident, while retirement homes can allow indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas or suites where physical distancing measures can be respected. Other residential care facilities can allow two visitors at a time in an outdoor space.
The government will continue to monitor the situation closely and will expand the visitation policy as soon as it is safe to do so.
Ontario Appoints New Patient Ombudsman
Today the provincial government appointed Cathy Fooks, former President and CEO of The Change Foundation, as the province’s new Patient Ombudsman. Ms. Fooks, who is expected to assume the role on July 13 for a five-year term, will oversee an investigation into the care and health-care experiences of long-term care home residents during COVID-19.
This work will complement the government's independent commission into Ontario's long-term care system expected to begin in July 2020.
The patient ombudsman is responsible for investigating complaints about hospitals, long-term care homes and home and community care, and making recommendations to the government on how to prevent issues from reoccurring.