N.B. families yearn for more nursing home visits
FREDERICTON -- While restrictions have been relaxed, many long-term care residents in New Brunswick are still limited to one designated visitor.
It can be difficult, but one home is trying to make it easier for families as they wait for restrictions to be relaxed further.
Early on during the pandemic, York Care Centre in Fredericton came up with the concept of drive-through visits, giving residents and families a window they can use to visit, without breaking isolation.
"We're constantly working as a team trying to figure out what else can we do? What ways can we be creative to bring families together and reduce social isolation and depression," said Lori McDonald, the VP of care and research services at York Care Centre.
It's been a balancing act to ensure residents' physical and mental safety, McDonald says.
In June, residents were allowed indoor visits with one designated loved one.
It was a welcome change, but one that comes with challenges.
"We have residents in here who are younger, or maybe have some cognitive delays, so both parents have been involved in their lives, and it's really hard for those parents to have to pick between the two of them, who gets to come in and be with, there, you know -- still their child, it doesn't matter how old they are," McDonald said.
Vitalite Health Network changed its visitor policy this week and is now allowing patients to see more of their loved ones -- but only one at a time.
Horizon Health Network has been doing the same.
These are changes that need to be made carefully, Dr. Jennifer Russell cautioned last Friday.
"Continuing to keep in mind that the vulnerable populations who were vulnerable before the pandemic … that those continue to be the part of the population that we need to be most concerned about," said the province's chief medical officer of health.
Visitors who are not designated at York Care can still see their loved ones outside or in the drive-through.
But McDonald says she understands that families feel that's not enough.
"It's like being told you can't see the person you love the most in the world, and you don't know when you're going to get to see them again, and so just to understand where they're coming from and as a team just try to put the parameters in place that will keep people safe but also alleviate some of that," McDonald said.
She says they are looking forward to a time when restrictions relax a little more, but there's no telling when that might be.