Those wanting to visit there loved ones in l0ng-term care and assisted living facilities are now allowed to in B.C., and a new online orientation course has been developed to make sure visitors are safe.

The course called “COVID-19: Social Visitation Essentials” was developed by SafeCare BC, in partnership with the Family Caregivers of British Columbia, and was designed for family and friends who want to visit there loved ones in care.

“It’s an online self-paced course that people can take in preparation for going to see their family member or loved one in a long-term care home or in an assisted living residence,” Jen Lyle, the C.E.O. of SafeCare B.C. said. “It basically gives you a good foundation in terms of steps you need to do, to follow to keep yourself safe and to keep the people around you safe, so you are not inversely introducing COVID-19 into a care setting.”

Lyle said that the course makes visiting loved ones safer for everyone.

“This is all about addressing two issues. One is finding ways to help support family members staying in touch and having those face to face interactions with there loved ones who are in long term care or assisted living, but also finding ways to keep the workers safe in that setting,” she said. “It doesn’t replace any of the on-site specific safety orientation that these organizations would be doing when people are coming in the front doors, but what it does is augment it. You have more knowledge and information going into that first visit, so everybody is better prepared for it.”

Lyle said that the closing of long-term care and assisted living residences have been hard on everyone involved, and she hopes that the course can help.

“You want to protect people living in those settings, you want to protect the workers from potentially getting sick, but at the same time, there’s a toll when we talk about closing care homes to visitors,” she said. “I think overall, where we can find opportunities to bring people back together, to establish those social connections, it has the benefit not only for the person in care but also the staff. It’s a win for everyone. We are finding ways to help support in being safe when they are coming into support there loved ones who are in care.”

Lyle said that the course covers different topics to make sure people are better prepared.

“We cover the obvious basics around hand hygiene, P.P.E. (Person Protective Equipment), putting it on, how to take it off safely, but we also talk about things like where you can get reputable information. It’s all done in plain language, and it’s meant to be very straightforward, so you don’t have to have a healthcare background to understand it.”

The first 5,000 people to complete the program will be able to do it for free, and so far, the course has already had over 225 people register. 

Lyle adds that the course should take around an hour to complete, and all you need is an email address. Once completed, you will get a certificate of completion that you can take into the long-term care home.

To take the COVID-19: Social Visitation Essentials orientation course, individuals can create their free account at www.safecarebclearningspace.ca.