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COVID-19 and long-term care

Communication updates

March 25 2020: Status of cases in Ontario

March 24 2020: Emergency order for LTC staffing flexibility

March 23 2020: Join our Virtual Family Forum for information and support

March 20 2020: A Joint Bulletin from Family Councils Ontario and Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils: ways to maintain connection during visitor restrictions

March 19 2020: Emergency funding for long-term care

March 17 2020: Ontario Enacts Declaration of Emergency to Protect the Public

March 16 2020: A Joint Statement from Family Councils Ontario and Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils

March 14 2020: Visitors Now Restricted in Long-Term Care

March 11 2020: Staying safe during COVID-19

 

General information about COVID-19

 

What is COVID-19?

From the World Health Organization: "COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019."

What is the status of the virus?

On March 11th, the World Health Organization (WHO), declared COVID-10 a pandemic. You can find updates on the number of cases in Ontario here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus
 

What does that mean? What is a pandemic?

From the WHO: A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease.

What are the symptoms?

Again, information from the WHO: "The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention."

 

Staying safe

How can I keep myself and loved ones safe?

From the government of Ontario:

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre. 

There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus.

There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses. Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick

 

Declaration of Emergency

The province has enacted a declaration of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public.

As a result, the following establishments are required to close immediately:

  • all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout and food delivery
  • all facilities providing indoor recreational programs
  • all public libraries
  • all private schools
  • all licensed child care centres
  • all movie cinemas
  • all theatres, including those offering live performances of music, dance and other art forms
  • all concert venues

Additionally, all organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship.

These orders will remain in place until March 31, 2020, when the province will reassess for an extension or end the closures.

 

Long-term care

Visitor restrictions in LTC
 
On Friday, March 13th 2020, Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams sent out a memo to long-term care homes strongly recommending that homes only allow “essential” visitors until further notice. Essential visitors are defined as those who have a resident who is dying or very ill.

This means that, effective immediately, only essential visitors will be permitted to enter a long-term care home -- and only if they successfully pass the screening. No other visitors will be permitted to enter the long-term care home. The Ministry of Health will reevaluate this measure in the coming weeks and ensure consistency with the Chief Medical Officer of Health's guidance on enhanced public health measures.

Should Family Councils cancel or postpone meetings?
 

As for Family Council meetings, we ask that you suspend all in-person Council meetings until the restriction on visitors has been lifted. Council members must not enter the home unless they qualify as essential visitors and pass the screening.

If you wish to continue connecting with your fellow Council members, use tools such as email, web meeting platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts, or phone. If you choose to forego all Council meetings and work, please rest assured that doing so is appropriate and reasonable in this situation.

 

Precautions and communication

How can we talk about COVID-19 without panic?

Here is good information.

What is proper hand washing technique?

See the steps here.

Where can I get more information on COVID-19?

Your loved one's long-term care home will have information for you.

The Ontario government is providing regular updates on COVID-19 here: The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Other trusted sources include:

Additional resources:

 

Be safe, be kind

During this time, let's all treat each other with love and kindness, practice patience and respect, and remember that we're all in this together.
 

“Let hope be the antidote to fear.

Let solidarity be the antidote to blame.

Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat"
 

- WHO Director-General

 

Contacting FCO

The FCO office is closed and all staff are working remotely. We remain available for phone and email consultations. Contact us with your questions, ideas, and concerns. If you need support and want to talk, call us.

We will provide more information on COVID-19 if the situation changes.