In-home visits have been a ‘game-changer’ for residents’ emotional well-being: LEA

Azaria Kanda says some Willows Estate residents had not seen their family members in months, and new visitation rules have had a positive impact

When it comes to residents and their loved ones seeing each other, nothing is better than them being in the same room, says Azaria Kanda, a life enrichment aide at Willows Estate.

Every time the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care eases restrictions in place on visitation, Azaria says he sees an upswing in residents’ emotional health and well-being – and even a decrease in agitation.

When the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Ontario long-term care homes put protocols in place restricting non-essential in-home visits to prevent the spread of the contagious virus.

During this time, staff members at the Willows (and other OMNI Health Care long-term care homes) began organizing video conferencing meetings between residents and their loved ones so they could keep in touch.

In spring, restrictions relaxed to allow residents and their families to have outdoor visits with social distancing and screening measures in place. As a result, patios and other outdoor areas were opened so residents and their families could safely visit, as long as visitors could prove negative COVID-19 test results from within the previous two weeks and wore face masks.

In mid-June, restrictions eased again to allow in-home visits between residents and one family member at a time, with visitors still required to wear face masks.

Some residents had not seen their loved ones in more than six months, Azaria says.

“The ability for residents to get back in touch with their loved ones for indoor visits has been really therapeutic for them,” he tells The OMNIway.

“Nothing beats seeing (a loved one) in person. To see their loved ones … (has) really been a game-changer, it really has improved their emotional well-being.

“They’re happier, they’re looking forward to seeing their family members again, one at a time. It’s been the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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