Since the beginning of 2020, Long-Term Care homes around the world have been largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years later, homes continue to be affected as new waves and variants spontaneously spread. The Omicron variant is proven to spread more frequently, thus numerous residents, staff and health care workers have recently tested positive for COVID-19 all throughout Ontario.
Due to the rise of Omicron, general visitors and social absences for residents have been banned. These restrictions have brought feelings of social isolation, loneliness, and rejection to those residents confined to their rooms. Though mandated isolation keeps residents safer, companionship, emotional support, in-person contact and social engagement – the human elements – are currently near to non-existent. Combined with poor health, cognitive impairment, and psychological distress, the risk of social isolation and loneliness is painful and can lead to other detrimental health outcomes.
Here are 10 ways to help isolated residents not feel lonely.
Get in touch with the Recreation Department to let them know what kind of music, TV shows, or movies your loved one enjoys. Number 705-445-6501 ext 222 (Long-Term Care) or 229 (Retirement Home)
Drop off a smartphone, iPad, tablet, or portable DVD player so your loved one can stay connected and entertained.
Contact the Recreation Department to schedule a video call with your loved one using FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.
Write your loved one a letter to offer some words of affirmation and encouragement. Remind them how resilient they are and that better days are coming.
Call your loved one over the phone to have a conversation with them.
If you are an Essential Designated Caregiver, you can book a visit to see your loved one through our online portal on our website. If you would like to become an Essential Designated Caregiver, please contact us directly to set you up for it. Number 705-445-6501 ext 222 (Long-Term Care) or 229 (Retirement Home)
Drop off your loved one’s favourite snacks, books, pop, candy, essentials, or even fast food like McDonalds or Tim Hortons.
Send your loved one photo’s of you and your entire family so they can see and have a physical copy of the photo in their room. Photos of grandkids, great grandkids, and pets always put a smile on their face.
Include your loved ones on special occasions. Call them on their birthday or include them while having Thanksgiving Dinner or Christmas via video call so they feel like they are there with you.
Schedule an appointment with Rogers or Bell to set up cable TV in their rooms. Live TV is always a great source of entertainment.
Communication and your presences are very important for the residents during these challenging times. A simple gesture or phone call can go a long way in helping the resident not feel lonely and isolated in their rooms. More than ever, this is crucial, and we encourage everyone to do their part in making our residents feel included in your lives.
Dear Friends & Family of Bay Haven Care Community,
As the Medical Director of Bay Haven, I wanted to write to all of you to update you on some important new information about COVID-19.
As you are likely aware, Ontario is now firmly in the second wave of the seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic. As I write this, 99 out of 626 nursing homes in Ontario are in outbreak from COVID-19. Thankfully, Bay Haven is not one of them. I hope and pray that it will stay that it will stay that way, and that the other nursing homes get out of outbreak as soon as possible.
Our knowledge of the COVID-19 virus has increased significantly in the past few months. We still don’t know everything about it, nor do we have a cure, but we can be better prepared than we were in the past.
We now know that the virus is largely spread by what’s called “aerosolized” means. That’s to say that it is expelled by your mouth when you breath/talk/sing and floats in the air for a large period of time, thus spreading to others. This is why wearing a mask is so important. All of our staff and visitors have been required to wear masks for many months, in addition to all the other screening that we do.
With this knowledge, it is becoming more and more apparent of the need for high quality ventilation and air purifiers, particularly those with HEPA filters. While the physical plant at Bay Haven is quite old, I am extremely grateful that the management of Bay Haven invested in HEPA air purifiers for all the large common areas, even before Health Canada updated their website to indicate the risk of airborne spread. I applaud their commitment to keeping residents safe.
Additionally, there has been much speculation about the benefits of Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin D in fighting viruses. To be candid, the evidence for Magnesium is not that great. Magnesium may kill viruses “in-vitro” – that’s to say, in a petri dish in a lab, but more study is needed to see how it works in a human body. But at least it’s not harmful.
There is actually decent evidence that Zinc can help fight off viral infections. Taking 25 mg of Zinc daily is not harmful and has benefits.
There’s been some evidence that Vitamin D can help fight viral infections for some years now. Recently however, a large clinical trial showed that people with low vitamin D levels were more likely to get COVID19. It’s a very large trial, and the first one I am aware of where the benefits vitamin D were proven for one specific virus.
What can you do?
First, of course we ask that you abide by our visitor policies, that have been mandated by the Public Health Departments. These policies are sometimes frustrating to follow, but they have been implemented to keep our residents safe. We ask that you please help us keep your loved ones safe.
Second, if you wish to provide additional protection, you could purchase a small room HEPA air purifier for your loved one. These would stay next to the head of the bed in the room, and provide additional protection. Currently they range in price from about $60 to $90 from Amazon. There are other models as well, of course, but they should be HEPA certified to be effective. At that price, frankly these devices will only last 6-9 months before going bad, but hopefully by that time we will have a vaccine. (While a vaccine is expected shortly, there are many distribution problems with them, and I don’t expect them to be available for a few months).
Finally, if you would like your loved ones to start Magnesium, Zinc, and Vitamin D, please let me know by sending me a message and I will ensure these are ordered.
None of these measures of course, is guaranteed to prevent a COVID infection, or an outbreak, but right now, represents the best possible protection we can provide.
I hope and pray you all continue to stay safe and well.
Dr. M. S. Gandhi, MD, CCFP Medical Director, Bay Haven Care Community
The Ontario government has announced that long term care and retirement home residents can once again leave their residences for short stay and temporary absences.
Short stay absences are for outpatient medical visits, to see family or run errands and do not include an overnight stay, with the exception of single-night emergency room visits. Bay Haven will provide resident with a medical mask to be worn at all times when outside the home, if tolerated. Residents will be reminded of the importance of physical distancing and hand hygiene. When the resident returns, they will be actively screened but will not be required to be tested or to self isolate.
Temporary absences are for personal reasons of one or more nights. Temporary absences will be at the discretion of the home and decided upon a case-by-case basis based upon safety factors like the risk associated with the absence (e.g. for a family weekend vs. a large gathering) and ability of the home to help residents self-isolate upon return. Residents can return if the home is not in outbreak, the resident has tested negative for COVID-19 and is returning to a room shared with no more than one other resident. For the protection of their neighbours, resident who leave on a temporary absence will be required to self-isolate for 14 days when they return to the home.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate ask Lillian Kelly, Director of Nursing or Roseanne Beaupre, Retirement Home Manager.
Thank you for your continued support as we work together to address the COVID-19 situation.
Do you ever wonder what a person with Dementia would think about regarding the COVID-19 pandemic? What exactly are they thinking about when they see their family and friends wearing a mask? What about when they think about the fact that they cannot go outside to public spaces or outings? Why is my family not visiting me? These are all questions that a person living with Dementia could be thinking about during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, a person living with Dementia may experience an increase in anxiety and/or confusion about the world around them. A person living with Dementia who is living in a Retirement or Long-Term Care home and is in isolation from their family and friends cannot properly understand all the precautionary measures taken during this time. The lack of visiting, going outdoors, and people wearing masks can impact their mental health and ability to socialize. This is why it is important to fully understand how to communicate and approach a person living with Dementia when you put on your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
In a health care setting, a person’s living with Dementia are likely unaware of current events and may have difficulty understanding the need for additional PPE & precautions in place. These extra precautions may be stressful for them because it is out of their normal daily routine. Once a person living with Dementia’s routine changes from their ordinary lifestyle, it can cause confusion and frustration for them. Normally, a person’s living with Dementia often rely on body language and facial expressions during interactions with another person, however, if they cannot see your mouth or your body language, this can affect them as well. This is why it is important to communicate properly with a person with Dementia even if you are wearing a lot of Personal Protection Equipment.
It is important to allow time for the person living with Dementia to process and understand who is approaching them. It may take additional time for them to understand what is being asked, and since a mask can cover up your mouth and distort their ability to understand or recognize your face, this could cause extra stress as well. It is always important to have direct eye contact with the person living with Dementia while communicating with them. When approaching them, remember to always use their name often when providing instructions to maintain their attention. If a person’s living with Dementia have questions surrounding precautions or PPE, provide simplified explanations so they can understand easily. Always remember to be mindful of your own non-verbal cues that the person’s living with Dementia may be responding to (body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions). It is important that you remain calm at all times. These are some important tips from the Alzheimer’s Society that you can take while communicating with a person in your life who is living with Dementia.
Marco Sanfilippo Marketing Specialist/Recreation Assistant
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Bay Haven Care Community took precautionary measures to ensure that all residents and staff stay healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. Bay Haven Care Community is excited to announce that starting on Friday, June 26th, we will begin scheduled and supervised outside patio visits between residents and families. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) has issued strict guidelines to ensure safe family visiting takes place during this time. Please note that ALL of the following rules are extremely necessary before attending an outdoor patio visit. An outdoor patio visit cannot be scheduled unless all of the following criteria are met. If a visitor does not comply with these requirements, there will be immediate discontinuation for resident visiting.
Please read and adhere to the following Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care safeguards so we can maintain your family members safety.
1.All visits must be scheduled ahead of time and pre-screened over the phone.
The Bay Haven Care Community Recreation staff will make every effort to accommodate scheduling of visitors during regular visiting hours. Regular visiting hours will take place between 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. To schedule a time, please call the Recreation Department at 705–445–6501 ext. 222 for Alivya on the Nursing Home side, or ext. 229 for Marco on the Retirement Home side.
2.Residents participating in the outside patio visit must be able to follow instructions.
All rules and instructions are placed for a reason. Everyone must be able to comply with the requirements for the outdoor patio visit. For those resident’s who’s current functional abilities prohibit compliance, or who are bed bound, a virtual or window visit will be scheduled. When you call to schedule the visit; Recreation staff can discuss options for you and your loved one.
3.All visitors must have a negative COVID-19 test result.
All visitors must have a negative COVID-19 test that has been conducted within the last 14 days. You can call Telehealth at 1 866–797–0000 and they will direct you to the nearest assessment centre for testing.
4.All visitors must pass an active screening questionnaire prior to the actual visit.
These active screening tools include having their temperature taken, attest that they are symptom free, have not been exposed to COVID-19 and have tested negative for COVID-19 within the last 14 days. Visitors must follow proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
5.Limit of one visitor per week to allow all residents the opportunity to visit with their loved one.
You will need to determine with your family members who this will be and how to plan your visits. At a later date and upon the home’s discretion supervised outdoor visits may increase from one visitor at a time to two or more. If visitors are adhering to current visiting protocols, resident safety will be maintained.
6.Visitors are responsible for bringing their own face covering for outside visits.
If a visitor forgets their medical mask or fabric face covering, Bay Have Care Community will provide you one. Visitors must wear the mask during the entire duration of their visit. Residents are not required to a wear face covering during the outside visit, but if they able to tolerate a mask, one will be provided.
7.All visitors will remain on the designated outdoor patio area during the visit.
When you arrive at the home, ring the doorbell and wait for Recreation staff to answer. Bay Haven Care Community is required to ask you a screening questionnaire. Both the resident and visiting family member must perform hand hygiene and maintain social distance of two metres.
8.All visitors should bring their own folding chair or lawn chair.
Please bring your own folding chairs or lawn chairs to the visit to stay comfortable outside. This will save the staff from having to disinfect surfaces after each visit and allow us to arrange for more visits.
9.The visits will be scheduled for a maximum of 30 minutes.
Please do not come early as we are trying to maintain social distancing between visiting families. Everyone is on a schedule, so we ask you to please coordinate your time properly.
10.The resident will remain 2 meters or 6 feet away.
All residents will be 2 meters or 6 feet away from the family member. Residents will be behind the table barrier. No items or gifts can be given directly to the residents. Staff will accept these gift items and follow our disinfecting protocols.
11. You must maintain a minimum distance of 2 metres / 6 feet from the resident and staff at all times.
We will bring the resident out to you and the staff member will return at the end of the visit to porter the resident back into the home. We know that it will be difficult to not hug or kiss your loved one, but it is necessary to ensure that no one unknowingly exposes our residents or staff to COVID-19. If these rules are not maintained and someone does come into contact with a resident, we are required by law to isolate the resident for 14 days post exposure. Please help us avoid this. Please maintain physical distancing by staying 2 metres / 6’ feet apart.
We understand that this is difficult for you and your family, but we feel it is necessary to allow these visits to happen safely. We are desperate for you and your resident to have these visits. Please help us by following these rule and guidelines. Any non-adherence to these rules will be the basis for discontinuation of future visits.
In the meantime, we will be evaluating the outdoor patio visits after the first few weeks. We welcome all feedback and encourage you to let us know how we can make these visit experiences better. Please feel free to share any comments or questions about all of the above rules and guidelines.
We are hopeful that this brings a bit of balance by ensuring our residents can see their family and loved ones in person while keeping safe as COVID-19 is still circulating in the community.
Please feel free to email or call us for any questions that you have and we will be happy to respond to you as soon as possible. Let’s work together to keep our residents healthy and COVID-free!
Thank you for your cooperation and stay healthy and safe!
In Ontario, the month of June is considered Seniors’ Month and is a time to reflect and celebrate all seniors from across the province. This year’s theme is “Stay Safe, Stay in Touch” and it focuses on keeping our seniors safe, connected, and engaged at their home during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho “As we take this opportunity to mark Seniors’ Month, we recognize that these are very challenging times for seniors as they continue to self-isolate due to the risk of COVID-19. Now more than ever, it is important that we come together to support our seniors and recognize and honour the knowledge, experience, and the contributions that seniors have made to build the province that we enjoy today.”
Let us make this month extra special for our seniors by showing them as much support and love as possible. If you have a senior in your life, or if you want to help out voluntarily, please take the time to reach out to them to ensure that they have what they need during this very difficult time. There are plenty of things you can do to stay in touch with seniors, you can give them a call over the phone or through FaceTime or Zoom, you could pick up some groceries for them so they can stock up their refrigerators’ so they have food, or you could safely see them through a window while visiting. Anything that you do to help or connect with a senior will increase their level of happiness, especially since most of them cannot leave their home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ontario Government has the highest regard for our seniors and they are committed to protecting and supporting them as much as possible. According to Raymond Cho “We are continuing to invest in almost 300 Seniors Active Living Centres which help seniors remain active and engaged in age-friendly communities.” Cho said that 175 of these programs are currently being offered remotely through teleconference, online videos, and one on one phone calls. These are all critical programs that help seniors stay connection while being at home. The Ontario Government also invested $11 million dollars to implement the Ontario Community Support Program, which is used to help coordinate meals, medicine, and other necessities to seniors across the province. Not only that, but the Ontario government is also developing a comprehensive Seniors’ Strategy which helps seniors remain healthy, active, and socially engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you can see, the Ontario Government is doing a lot to support seniors during this most difficult time, and since June is Seniors’ Month, we should all be doing our part by reaching out to our seniors as well. At Bay Haven Care Community, the Recreation team conducts and designs programs that help stimulate seniors emotional, intellectual, physical, vocational, social, spiritual, and environmental well-beings to benefit the seniors lifestyle. This month, let’s stay safe and stay in touch together as we help our seniors cope through this pandemic lockdown.
Marketing Specialist/Recreation Assistant
COVID-19 is the largest public health crisis that Canada has ever faced. During the early stages of the pandemic, Bay Haven’s care team followed the precautionary measures set forth by our homes’ Medical Advisor Dr. Gandhi, Public Health, and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. “The health of our residents and staff is at the forefront of our priorities. We want everyone to know that we are taking all necessary precautionary measures to prevent COVID-19 from entering our home.” said Scott Strandholt during one of our staff huddles. Below is a list of these precautionary measures Bay Haven Care Community is taking to prevent COVID-19.
No Visitors Allowed
COVID-19 is a virus that does not always show symptoms early on. It has been determined that people might be contiguous without realizing it. One of the earliest precautionary measures Bay Haven Care Community took was to restrict visitors into the building. Thankfully, family, friends, entertainment performers, and church ministers were eager to comply. Realizing how important it is for our residents to maintain communication with their families, the Recreation Team installed Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom to our iPad’s to ensure that those family conversations continue throughout this pandemic.
Active screening is one of the most important precautionary measures being done to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All staff MUST be screened at the beginning and at the end of their shift. During the screening process, all staff are asked a series of questions about where they have been in the last 24 hours, and if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, headache, tiredness, or body aches. Next, the nurse takes their temperature. If any staff member fails the screening process, or has a high temperature, they are not allowed to enter the building and are asked to go home and contact their physician or Public Health.
Bay Haven Care Community is taking additional measures to ensure social distancing is being practiced amongst all our residents and staff. Dietary Manager Donna Shiner has added extra dining tables in both the nursing and retirement home dining rooms limiting two residents per table. In Recreation, resident programs have been reduced to five residents per program and social distancing is being followed. Lounge chairs that were side-by-side have been separated in all common areas and staff rooms.
Bay Haven Care Community has hired extra staff to disinfect all high touch areas (hand rails, door knobs, door frames etc.) several times a day. Adequate levels of disinfectant, bleach wipes, Virox wipes, and other sanitizers are available and easily accessible throughout the home. Everyone is being diligent to keep our home clean and virus-free!
Bay Haven Care Community currently has adequate levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for all staff members. Available PPE includes disposable and non-disposable gowns, face shields, protective eye wear, face masks, and hand sanitizers. Every staff member is working together to ensure our residents and staff are fully protected as we work together to prevent this pandemic from entering our home.
Bay Haven Care Community managers have been working tirelessly keeping residents, staff, and families up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 news. Everyday, Bay Haven Care Community policies and procedures are continuously being reviewed to reflect the COVID-19 regulations and directives. In addition, countless signs and education material is being made available to keep all staff and residents safe and informed.
Bay Haven Care Community nurses are hyper vigilant in making sure that any resident or staff member who exhibits any COVID-19 symptom gets swabbed and tested immediately. While waiting for test results, suspect residents are isolated to their rooms. These precautionary measures, although unpleasant and disruptive, are being done to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 in our home.
These are some of the precautionary measures that Bay Haven Care Community has taken to prevent COVID-19 from entering our home. Everyday the Government of Canada is implementing new rules and regulations to help stop COVID-19. For the safety of our residents and front line staff, please follow the rules, stay home, practice social distancing, and wash your hands!
Marketing Specialist/Recreation Assistant