N.S. eases long-term care restrictions to allow designated caregivers for residents
HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia government is easing restrictions in long-term care homes to allow designated caregivers to help care for and support residents.
For some, it will be the first time since mid-March family members will be allowed inside the facilities.
"The residents are becoming very tired," said Cheryl Deveaux, the CEO of The Cove Guest Home in Sydney, N.S. "They're wanting to see their families and the families are becoming very anxious as well and they want to see their loved ones."
In a news release Tuesday, Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for residents in long-term care facilities, where visitor restrictions have been in place since March.
"With new cases of COVID-19 remaining low in Nova Scotia, we can continue to ease some of the necessary restrictions," said Delorey. "Designated caregivers will now be able to help support the daily care and well-being of residents."
The province said Tuesday that designated caregivers can be family members, spouses, friends, or other support people.
A designated caregiver must provide the resident with support such as personal care, mobility, or help with eating, and have had an established caregiving relationship with the resident before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Long-term care facilities will work with residents, families and decision-makers to identify up to two designated caregivers per resident. However, only one designated caregiver may visit a resident at a time.
Facilities will train caregivers on public health requirements, including the use of masks and good hand and respiratory hygiene, along with facility procedures. They will also establish processes to screen caregivers when they arrive at the facility and identify them while on site.
Potential caregivers can make arrangements with facilities for training and visitation.
Medical masks will be provided for caregivers to wear while with residents.
The changes are welcomed at The Cove Guest Home, but staff admit there will be added stress.
"We also have to do some education with our family members because they will be expected to follow the same policies and procedures that our staff follow within our facility," said Sheri McPhee, the director of resident care.
The province says the changes will be implemented as early as Sept. 11, but at The Cove Guest Home, they're taking a few extra days to make sure they're properly prepared.
"We're hoping that we will be ready by Sept. 15," Deveaux said. "We need time to be able to put these plans in place and that it's a smooth transition."
Deveaux says the timing is right because COVID-19 cases in the province remain low, but she says she's always concerned and aware of how quickly an outbreak can happen.
"For the residents to feel that love from their family members, that is a huge component of our residents feeling safe in the environment that they live in," McPhee said.
Nova Scotia reported a total of four active COVID-19 cases on Monday. There are currently no active cases of COVID-19 in any of 133 licensed long-term care facilities in the province.