HALIFAX -- As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on, family members want more access to their loved ones in long-term care homes, like Stefanie Stanislow.

Her father lives at the Camp Hill Veteran Memorial Building.

"He has of course, been in lock down since the beginning of COVID, which when that started, we understand that had to happen and he understood it as well. But now, it's gone on too long,” said Stanislow.

Last week, Stanislow was one of several people who protested outside the facility, calling on government to loosen restrictions.

She would like to see family members designated essential care givers for those in long-term care facilities.

"We're going on six months without being able to have intimate access with him, you know, to go to his room, that's his home. We're not able to see him at his home,” said Stanislow. “The workers are there and they do a fantastic job, we have no issue with that at all but they're not family."

On Wednesday, the province’s top doctor announced government was easing some restrictions at long-term care homes.

"While indoor visits will continue to be restricted to one visitor at a time, we’ve lifted the limit on the number of people that a resident can identify for those indoor visits,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We've also now will be allowing residents to leave their facility with a family member to attend non-urgent medical appointments as well.” 

For family members, those changes simply aren’t enough.

"Lifting the cap on the number of visitors that can go see somebody is only changing the different people that can go in one at a time. It's not like two or three people can go in and visit, still in a restricted area, close to an exit, wearing a mask, six feet distanced, is not suitable,” said Stanislow.

Kate Kelly is also not happy with the current restrictions at long-term care homes.

She wants to be able to spend more time with her brother, who lives at Northwood. "I can visit him essentially once a week, maybe twice, for half an hour each time but I can't go in for any length of time to spend any more time with him, so he's finding that difficult,” she said.

Kelly says her brother is an artist, who loves to sing and visit with his friends. Something that’s been put on hold for the last six months.

"My brother was diagnosed in February with terminal cancer and six months of his life have now been spent locked in and how much longer does he have? I don't know, no one really knows but I have this horrible vision of him being locked in until the day he dies,” she said.

Kelly doesn’t understand why she is allowed to take her brother to a non-urgent medical appointment but isn’t allowed to take him out sight seeing for a few hours.

"Why is that safe and it's not safe for me to take him out for his mental health to enjoy a day drive around the city,” she asked, noting she has left messages with Dr. Strang’s office but has not heard back.

Gary MacLeod, with ACE or Advocates for the Care of the Elderly, says it’s time government pay more attention to seniors.

"It's the last part of the economy and part of the social gatherings that's happening. Like always, the elderly and those in long-term care are thought about last and it's a sad situation,” he said.