Dear Residents and Families,
We remain committed to providing updates to our residents, families, and staff at AgeCare. We are providing weekly updates to keep you all informed on what is happening in our community and organization-wide.
These updates are sent on Friday each week. We hope that you find them helpful. Thank you all for your continued support.
Director of Care
As the pandemic evolves, it continues to be essential to maintain strong protections within these settings to minimize the introduction of and risk of virus transmission and spread. As we have learned more about COVID-19, we are better able to target effective interventions.
The latest order (CMOH Order 23-2020), targets interventions that are known to be most effective, while allowing others to be relaxed, safely, to improve quality of life and resident experience within these settings. It provides further guidance and clarifies some key areas relating to care and services at AgeCare. In the review of this order, many of these processes are in place at our site. If you wish, you may review the full order by visiting the Alberta Government website.
There are no changes in this order relating to visitation, which was the primary focus of the previous order (CMOH Order 29-2020). Some key changes within this order are:
We are now able to welcome back our volunteers! Our residents and the recreation teams have genuinely missed our volunteers. Re-introducing the volunteer program at our site will take some time, as we need to ensure we are doing it safely and following the order. All volunteers will be provided with the necessary training and guidance to keep them and others safe. Volunteer training will cover topics such as personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene, outbreak protocols, safe visiting, etc. As we restart our volunteer program in stages, if you are a volunteer, we will reach out to you to see if you may be interested in returning.
If you are not a volunteer currently, are passionate about enriching the lives of seniors, and have time to give, we would welcome you to volunteer at our community. We can accommodate flexible hours to suit your schedule, the opportunity to enjoy the rewards of building new friendships, and the ability to brighten someone’s day. Visit www.agecare.ca/volunteer to learn more and start the application process.
Most of our entertainment currently is hosted outdoors; however, as we are now in fall, we are looking at our options for indoor entertainment – all while providing the appropriate spacing for these events. At this time, this will not include entertainment with singers due to the high-risk it imposes. Stay tuned for more information on these, through our recreation calendars!
For any new admissions, transfers and resident outings or overnight stays, the order provides guidance on accessing the risk of exposure and providing precautions that should be adhered to based on the level of risk. Effective immediately, we will be using these to guide our decisions at the site. There are two areas that we wish to highlight for our residents and families, including:
When a resident returns from the same day outing, either on their own if independent or with family/friends, the resident and family (if applicable) is expected to have an open discussion with the site about the risk of unknown exposure and collectively determine the required safety precaution. If consensus cannot occur, existing dispute resolution processes will be followed:
To balance the mental health impact of extended isolation/quarantine upon return to the site, the parameters in the table below are in place to guide the assessment of risk and safety precautions, on a case-by-case basis, for the returning resident. Where applicable, additional safety precautions may be required if the resident returns to a semi-private room where the other resident is immunocompromised or medically fragile.
If identified as a designated family/support person under CMOH Order 29-2020, paid companions are permitted, following all safety precautions outlined in that order, including active screening and being educated on safe visiting practices.
Services provided by external health professionals (who are not employed or contracted by AgeCare) should provide their services virtually wherever possible. If that is not possible, these health professionals are permitted to provide services in-person to individuals who are not isolated. If the resident is isolated, decisions are on a case-by-case basis.
As per previous orders from the CMOH, our Continuing Care (including Long Term Care and Supportive Living) residents were to be screened twice a day for symptoms, including taking their temperature. Residents will now be screened once per day. This screening is documented in the resident health record. If the resident is suspected of having new or worsening symptoms, they are put on precautionary contact and droplet isolation, a swab is taken, and the resident’s family is notified. Residents remain on contact and droplet isolation while they have symptoms. Residents on contact and droplet isolation will be served meals and continue to be provided all the care and support they need in their rooms.
The previous requirement in the last CMOH order of staff having to be screened after a brief exit (e.g., breaks, garbage removal, supporting outdoor visits) is no longer understood to be a necessary component of an effective approach to health assessment screening.
Staff continue to be screened before starting their shift and are required to self-monitor for symptoms during their shift. Any staff who have symptoms are to immediately stop their work and report to their supervisor to review their symptoms. If instructed to so by their supervisor, they will leave the building, self-isolate and access the online Alberta Health Services (AHS) Healthcare Worker screening tool. They will not return to work until they are cleared to do so.
This order provides further clarification on the differences between the terms Isolation and Quarantine.
In this order, clarity has been provided on the definitions of the following terms currently being used by Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services in the tracking of outbreaks.
In the latest order from the CMOH, there are changes to some of the minimum standards related to the care and services we provide. Upon the review of this order, we at AgeCare have made the decision to exceed these minimum standards in a few key areas to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our communities. In addition, we wished to reiterate some of our other outbreak prevention strategies that remain in place.
The new order has made risk-based recommendations on welcoming new residents into our community. This includes but is not limited to, no longer swabbing asymptomatic residents upon admission. For the safety of residents and staff, we will continue to swab all new residents for COVID-19.
Enhanced cleaning procedures, and the associated staffing, remain in place. This includes high touch surfaces (examples: doorknobs, faucets, etc.) at least 3 times per day following our outbreak protocols. Visitors will not be asked to assist with cleaning.
Additional dining times will remain in place to ensure appropriate physical distancing can occur while residents enjoy their meals. No changes will be made to either the number of residents at the table or the delivery of service. Safe food handling and enhanced cleaning protocols continue to be followed.
While not covered in this order, we wish to remind you that our staff continues to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in accordance with the guidance of AHS and the CMOH. They are also required to take the appropriate hygiene measures when applying and removing PPE. This includes, but is not limited to, staff wearing masks while providing resident care or in areas where 2-metres physical distance cannot be maintained.
Education Services continues to provide ongoing training for staff on the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand hygiene, and other health and safety protocols.
The AgeCare COVID-19 Operations Centre, a cross-disciplinary leadership team, and site leadership continue to meet multiple times per week to discuss COVID-19 updates and take any actions required.
We are happy to share that our recreation calendar is back, and many of our regular recreational activities in the community have resumed. Residents can participate in a variety of engaging activities that enrich the mind, body and spirit, while maintaining appropriate physical distancing.
We would like to provide a shout-out to our hairdresser, Katty. She goes above and beyond her role by taking the time to develop an interpersonal relationship with each and every resident. Katty has been able to maintain her positive demeanour during this difficult time. She has been doing a fantastic job following our AgeCare pandemic protocols and public health orders. Thank you, Katty, for all your hard work with our residents and our AgeCare family.