Wellington Terrace making plans for eventual ‘lightening up’ of safety measures

ABOYNE – Wellington Terrace Long-Term Care Home management is planning for the day changes to provincial directions allow for relaxation of strict safety measures currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Wellington Terrace has put great effort into infection control practices and protocols to keep our staff and residents safe,” states a report from Wellington Terrace administrator Sue Schwartzentruber.

“As the curve lessens, we are anticipating changes to the ministry directives, therefore a ‘lightening up’ on some of these current measures.”

The report, presented at the May 28 county council meeting, indicates required precautions and procedures remaining in place include:

  • active screening for staff and residents;
  • no admissions from hospitals;
  • residents must stay on Terrace property;
  • ensuring use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • resident cohorting;
  • only essential visitors allowed; and
  • limiting staff to working on one location.

The report explains active screening includes twice-daily temperature-taking for staff and residents.

If experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, staff members are asked to go to an assessment centre for testing and go home to self-isolate.

They are instructed not to return to work until they have received a confirmation of a negative swab and are symptom free for 24 hours.

Residents displaying symptoms are placed under isolation precautions and tested. The resident remains in isolation until the home has received confirmation of a negative test result, they are symptom free for 24 hours and have been in isolation for a minimum of five days.

Wellington Terrace is preparing for staff to conduct a self-screening at home, including monitoring for symptoms and taking their temperature, once provincial directives allow for it. Staff will follow infection control protocols related to fitness to work.

The report notes resident cohorting may include bringing residents together that are well or those that are unwell in separate groups, having residents remain in their own “neighbourhood” throughout the day and creating alternate accommodations to help maintain physical distancing.

Staff has modified the dining experience to allow for physical distancing. Half the residents eat in the dining room and the remaining residents eat at tables in the hallway and activity rooms.

Recreation programming is limited to small groups of one to four residents within the same neighbourhood.

The report notes: “As the threat of COVID-19 dissipates, residents will have greater opportunity to participate in programs off the neighbourhood and the size of the groups may increase.”

While only essential visitors are currently allowed into the home, staff is supporting resident and family virtual, telephone and window visiting, the report notes.

The report indicates staff are preparing for in-person, physically distant family visits and volunteers to return when provincial directives allow. One option is family and resident outdoor visiting with physical distancing observed and visits pre-booked to allow control of number of participants.

Volunteers with be actively screened and designated to one neighbourhood.

While the province has directed that “wherever possible” employers are to work with staff to limit their number of work locations, the report points out all Wellington Terrace staff were asked to choose only one work location.

“For those staff that choose a different work location, letters were provided to assure their employment upon return,” the report states.

In the event provincial directives once again allow staff to work in multiple long-term care facilities, protocols similar to existing flu season protocols will be used.

“We plan to adhere to dedicating staff to ‘neighbourhood’ assignments as much as possible,” and “continue to look for opportunities to provide staff scheduling flexibility to make Wellington Terrace their workplace of choice,” the report states.

Councillor Mary Lloyd, who chairs the county’s information, heritage and seniors committee, noted the facility had a single outbreak involving one staff member – and no residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s very difficult. This is a very sensitive population to illness,” said Lloyd.