Ontario’s announcement of its roadmap to reopening as of May 20th, has brought some relief to retirement home residents and their families. 

The government’s new plan for reopening businesses and resuming social activities includes a three step approach that is dependent on positivity rates and the percentage of the population that is vaccinated.  With this announcement came the news that Ontario residents are now allowed to leave their homes for non-essential reasons and gather in groups of five or less outdoors while socially distanced. 

These new rules apply to retirement home residents as well, meaning that residents are allowed to leave for non-essential reasons such as social gatherings, regardless of immunization status. Residents are also now allowed to visit with up to five friends or family members from different households, outdoors. Periods away from a retirement home can be up to 12 hours. 

Outdoor activities can also resume as long as there are five or less participants and social distancing can take place. These are a few small changes that will help to reduce social isolation for many residents at retirement homes and Long Term Care facilities. 

Another important update from Ottawa Public Health on Friday 21 May is that new residents of a retirement home can get their second dose ahead of their current schedule, to allow them to be fully vaccinated before moving in. Retirement homes can advise new residents or their families how to do this.

Other policies in place that are continuing right now:

  • Any resident who is fully vaccinated, does NOT have to quarantine for 14 days
  • Any resident who has had one or no dose of vaccine will have to isolate for up to 10 days
  • Any resident or their substitute decision maker is able to nominate two people to act as Essential Caregivers. Essential care can mean companionship and mental health support and does not have to involve any physical support.