Long Term Care and Assisted Living Social Visiting Information

Information for families of those living in Long-Term Care and Assisted Living sites

We understand that visitor restrictions because of COVID-19 have been difficult for families and friends. 

For more information on Island Health's social visiting in long term care refer to Social Visiting: LTCF Guideline.

Please read below for information about social visits at Long-Term Care and Assisted Living sites. You can also check out the Essential Visitor Determination Guideline: Seniors Assisted Living and the Social Visitor Guideline: Registered Assisted Living.

On January 7, 2021 the Ministry of Health released Overview of Visitors in Long-Term Care and Seniors’ Assisted Living. These guidelines declared a Public Health Order on Feb 5, 2021 titled Visitation and Visitor Appeal and Review.

For more information on Island Health's Visitor Appeal and Review process on the Provincial Health Order document.

You can also refer to the BCCDC's Social Visiting Guidelines for Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Facilities resource to help you get ready for your visit. 

When will I be able to visit with my family member or friend who lives in a Long-Term Care home or seniors' Assisted Living site?

Each facility is different and unique. Contact the site that you wish to visit for their process on visits, including how often visits are scheduled, and how long visits will be.

What can I expect at a social visit? 

The first step is to contact the site where your friend or loved one is living and schedule a visit with staff. Residents are able to visit with one, consistent, designated family member or friend. 

  • As a visitor, you will complete a screening process before every visit. 
  • Visits will not be permitted if the visitor or resident is sick.
  • Designated visitors will wear a medical-grade mask that is provided by the facility. The mask has to be worn for the entire duration of the visit.

If outdoor visit space is available, and visits take place outside, visitors do not need to wear a mask if they can maintain 2 meters of physical distance for the entirety of their visit.

What safety measures are in place? 

All operators of each facility now have the following details in place to protect residents/clients and support designated visitors, and will engage with families to let them know of their specific processes:

  • A clear process to identify and approve designated visitors.
  • The identified/designated location(s) to safely accommodate visits (while considering size and layout of the site, and the safey of residents and staff). Visit spaces may include:
    • Appropriate outdoor space
    • Indoor designated area 
    • Private client/resident rooms 
What about essential visits? How will these change?

Facilities will continue to support visitors for essential visits.  Essential needs may be identified by the resident, family, substitute decision maker or by the care team.  The decision for an essential visitor and visit plan is made in partnership with the resident/substitute decision maker and care team.
Essential visits shall be limited to one visitor per resident within the facility at a time (except in the case of palliative/end-of-life care).

Read more about essential visitor policy. 

What if I have concerns about visitor policy decisions or feel that my care, or my loved one’s care, has been impacted?

If you have questions or concerns about care or care decisions that you or your loved one received, please first speak with the person who cared for you, that person’s manager or the facility operator. It is best to talk about your concerns at the time they happen. 

If there is no resolution, Island Health is currently working the Ministry to ensure our Visitor Review and Appeal process meets requirements to ensure a fair and consistent process for escalating and reviewing complaints.

What if I am not comfortable talking to a staff member or unhappy about how my concerns were handled?  

If this situation occurs, you can talk to the Patient Care Quality Office.

They are available to help  bring forward care quality concerns and welcome your questions and feedback about care. 

What if I still have concerns after contacting the The Patient Care Quality Office?  

If you are not satisfied with the response to your concern, you may request a review from the Patient Care Quality Review Boards. The Review Boards provide an independent review process regarding care quality concerns originating in our health authorities.

Can a resident have both an essential visitor and a social visitor?

Yes.  A resident who has an essential visitor may also have a designated social visitor.

How are visits for palliative/end-of-life care supported?

If a resident is palliative/end-of-life, essential visits are limited to 1-2 visitors per resident at the bedside at a time.  This does not limit the number of visitors who may attend in a day.  A resident receiving palliative/end-of-life care may have a visitor with them as much as required.