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Senior advocacy group nervous about the return of Regina care home visitation restrictions

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A senior advocacy group is concerned about the mental health of long-term care home residents, following the reinstatement of some visitation restrictions at Regina area facilities.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) implemented visitation restrictions at Regina zone long-term care homes Thursday morning, citing rising risk of Omicron exposures in the community.

Under level one family presence restrictions, residents or patients in affected homes can only have two designated family members or support people visit, and only one can visit at a time.

Shan Landry, the vice president of Saskatchewan’s Seniors Mechanism, said residents going through another round of limited visitation is concerning.

“We saw the negative consequences of that, and now, as restrictions start to come into place again, there's a fear on behalf of residents, staff and family members about what this will mean as we go forward,” Landry said.

Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism is an umbrella organization who bring together groups of older adult voices that promote positive aging in their communities.

Laundry said while the organization understands the SHA is trying to protect residents, their mental health is also something that needs to be considered.

“Absolutely we have to ensure that we have those safeguards in place with proper PPE, vaccinations and negative tests to ensure they're as safe as possible going in. But we have to weigh that out the risk about the mental health and emotional well-being of residents and ensure they're balanced,” Landry said.

Harbour Landing Village is one of the long-term care homes impacted by the change and staff said this new restriction will be added to those already in place.

“There are rules that we've had in place now for almost the entire pandemic overall, but our visitors will have to be screened, they'll have to have a rapid test, they'll have to have a proof of vaccine, depending where they're visiting masking rules are going to apply as well,” Janson Anderson, President and CEO of Harbour Landing Village said Thursday.

Anderson said these new restrictions will take some time to get used to once again but aren’t foreign to residents or their families.

“In some ways, it's obviously a tough thing for people, they don't get to see their full group of families that they might want to, but in other ways it's probably one of the best things to keep people safe,” he said.

The SHA said it does not take the decision to restrict family presence “lightly,” in a Wednesday news release.

“These measures are in place to keep you, your loved ones, and health care workers safe,” the SHA said.

“The Saskatchewan Health Authority is asking the public for their support and cooperation in order to contain the spread of the virus.”

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