Outdoor visits at long term care homes start Saturday

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A birthday sign hangs at Lambton Meadowview Villa in Petrolia in April 2020.

After months of waiting, families beyond essential care givers will be able to visit seniors in long term care homes in Ontario.

The Ministry of Long Term Care has yet to make a formal public announcement however Jane Joris, the general manager of long term care in Lambton County, confirms outdoor visits will start Saturday.

Up to two people will be able to book a visit outdoors with seniors across the province including Lambton County’s three municipally run homes, Lambton Meadowview in Petrolia, Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia and North Lambton Lodge Forest. Visitors will be asked screening questions but won’t need a COVID-19 test.

They’ll have to be physically distanced and wear a mask. If a visitor has a child under two, they are not considered part of the two visitors maximum.

The ministry adds if a home doesn’t have an appropriate space outdoors, the visits can take place near the homes outdoors.

Joris says the homes had been preparing the visiting areas already in anticipation of visits occurring, so they are ready to go even with the short notice. However, it isn’t clear whether the online booking system will be ready to book appointments. Families are asked to call the homes to set up a visit at this time.

Seniors in long term care and retirement homes have been limited to seeing only essential care givers since the Ontario government locked down the entire province in January.