Families of residents in long-term care homes and personal care homes in Saskatchewan will soon be able to safely spend more time together, thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Starting on Thursday, April 29, long-term care and personal care homes will be able to welcome an unlimited number of family members or support people, two at a time, to visit fully vaccinated residents if at least 90 per cent of residents have been fully vaccinated and three weeks have elapsed since the last second dose vaccinations.

These homes will also be able to allow up to four family members or support people to visit outdoors.  Fully vaccinated residents who go on outings will no longer be required to quarantine upon their return to a home.

“Our priority is the safety and well-being of residents and staff in our long-term care homes and personal care homes,” Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “This gradual, cautious approach will help keep residents safe, while allowing them much-needed contact with their loved ones.”

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will notify long-term care homes when they are eligible to ease visitor restrictions.  Personal care homes are responsible for aligning themselves with the same operational policies as the SHA, and must be able to verify that they meet the requirements.

Family and support persons visiting will still have to follow public health guidelines on masking, physical distancing, hand hygiene, routine testing and temperature screening.  Fully vaccinated residents must abide by all public health measures in place if they leave a care home, including current restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings.

SHA Medical Health Officers will have discretion to maintain restrictions, even if the thresholds are met.  They will consider the local context, including the level of community transmission and the number of cases within a home.

There are almost 160 long-term care homes and about 250 personal care homes in Saskatchewan.  Other jurisdictions across Canada have introduced, or are considering, gradual changes to visitor restrictions/family presence in long-term care homes and acute care facilities.