As we move into fall, we all have a role in staying healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please read through this entire bulletin and discuss it with those closest to you.
Cases of Covid-19 are climbing steadily, with 1,571 confirmed cases in Alberta, including two in Canmore. The number of active cases in Alberta is far higher now than the 60 that existed in March when the states of emergency were declared. Since studies show that there are about five undiagnosed cases for every diagnosed one, we can assume that there are about twelve cases in Canmore right now. Tragically 265 Albertans have died, most of whom were seniors.
We are all tired of Covid-19, but we still have a lot of work to do. Stay the course! We can do this if we all work together. Keep washing and sanitizing your hands, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, watching your distance from others and staying in when sick. We can beat this virus if we work together and protect each other.
Instead of a new society-wide lockdown the provincial strategy requires every Albertan to do everything we can to reduce the spread. Seniors’ lodges are still more restricted than the rest of society, due to the deadly threat to seniors, but the authorities are trying to balance the risks to both your mental and physical health. We are not locked down but we must act responsibly. Do not leave your suite if you feel sick; wash and or sanitize your hands often; wear a mask; stay apart from others and avoid sick people and crowded places. Remember that most infected people do not recognize that they have it, which is why it is so important that every one of us always practices excellent disease prevention.
So, you are responsible for your safety, and to do your best to safeguard your neighbours. Since case numbers are now surging higher, you must use care and caution because while we are doing everything that we are legally able to do for you, you are required to consistently do your part well. It is important to understand that BVRH considers unsafe behaviour by residents as breaches of the residency agreement, and residents who place themselves and others at risk can be held to account up to and including eviction if necessary. Meanwhile, we will continue to maintain the precautions that the law allows, including measures such as continuous masking, enhanced disinfection, resident and staff screening, and in-suite dining for those who appreciate its value.
So far BVRH residents have remained safe from the disease. We have all made sacrifices over the past months to keep our loved ones and our communities safe – and it has made a huge difference. Let’s not lose our perfect record; please stop and think of the risk that you may expose your fellow residents to before you go out unnecessarily, walk through the lodge without a mask or without washing your hands first, or if you don’t tell anybody if you feel even a little unwell.
Key Messages from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health
• As the pandemic evolves, it continues to be important to maintain strong protections within seniors’ lodges to minimize the introduction of and risk of virus spread.
• It is imperative that residents remain vigilant in their actions to protect themselves and others around them from Covid-19. Residents remain at extremely high risk for severe outcomes, including death, if they are infected with Covid-19.
• People over 60 years of age and those with certain pre-existing health conditions are the most at risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19, especially when they live in close proximity as occurs in seniors’ facilities. • Tests for Covid-19 can only detect the virus at the time of the swab collection and provide only a point in time result. Someone with a negative test result may still go on to develop Covid-19 during the incubation period of 14 days after exposure.
• To prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including Covid-19, among seniors and vulnerable groups, we are setting a number of expectations that apply to lodge operators, staff, residents and their designated family/support persons and, or visitors.
• The intent of these expectations is to help ensure that seniors and other vulnerable individuals living and working in these congregate settings are kept as physically safe as possible, mitigating the severe risks of Covid-19, as well as other infections.
o Covid-19 can be spread by touching objects or surfaces the virus has landed on then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
o Activities that carry this risk are not recommended, even with physical distancing in place, including:
o Sharing food, drinks or utensils
o Sharing equipment
o Close-range conversations
o Touching, including hugging people outside of your immediate household Your obligations during the pandemic
• As per Alberta Health, it is imperative that residents remain vigilant in their actions to protect themselves and others around them from Covid-19. Residents remain at extremely high risk for severe outcomes, including death, if they are infected with Covid-19.
• To prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including Covid-19, among seniors and vulnerable groups, there are many expectations that apply to lodge residents and their designated family/support persons and, or visitors.
• Consistently do the following to protect yourself and others:
o Wash or sanitize your hands before leaving, and after returning to your suite.
o Sanitize your hands before entering the elevator, the dining room and the lodge entrance areas.
o Wear a mask when out of your suite if you can. Cover coughs and sneezes.
o Avoid touching your face.
o Avoid crowds, busy public places, sick people and stay 2m apart from others.
o Do not lean in close to people, do not touch, hug or shake hands with others.
o Stay in your suite if you do not feel well – and let us know immediately. Check yourself daily for symptoms of Covid-19 including fever, headache, cough, etc.
o Do not visit with people who are sick. Your loved ones and support people must stay away from you and others if they feel sick or have any symptoms at all.
o Connect with people regularly in safer ways – on the phone, use technology (we can help with that!), chat from a distance and do not forget handwritten cards!
• Do not go out unless it is truly necessary. We all miss the normal world where we can do as we please, but things are not normal; there is still a very clear and present danger to your safety and that of your neighbours.
• Avoid high risk activities, such as:
o Sharing food, drinks or utensils with others, even loved ones.
o Sharing equipment, such as exercise machines, craft supplies, books and puzzles.
o Close-range conversations with others, even loved ones.
o Direct physical contact or touches, including hugs and handholding with others, even loved ones sadly.
o Gatherings of people outside of the lodge.
• Residents can leave the lodge property for necessary outings. We recognize that socialization and activity are important to everyone’s wellbeing, however we also recommend you limit your trips out, both in frequency and duration.
• Each trip out raises the risk of getting and spreading Covid-19 – so BVRH is required to assess your risk of being exposed to it every time you go out. We will work with you, and we will depend on you, to do this. If your risk of exposure is high you will be required to isolate in your suite for 14 days upon return, even if you were out for just part of the day.
• You are very likely to have a severe outcome if you are infected with Covid-19. Safety precautions for your outings must include:
o Staying 6 feet apart from others and avoiding places where you can not do so.
o Avoiding places that are or can become crowded or busy – indoor functions have been the largest spreader of the virus in Alberta! o Always wearing a mask and ask anyone you may be with to also wear a mask.
o Ensuring you have safe transportation – such as a private vehicle and where everyone is masked. Ask us for more information if you are uncertain.
o Washing and or sanitizing your hands often.
o Be cooperative and honest when you are screened before re-entering the lodge.
• Risk is assessed by looking at:
o How many cases are active in the community you go into.
o If there are cases in the building you go into.
o How often you go out from the lodge, and how necessary your outings are.
o How many people you were around when you were out of the lodge and how well they followed infection prevention measures, such as masking and distancing.
o If you took safe transportation.
o How well and consistently you take these precautions seriously, and
▪ Wear a mask.
▪ Sanitize your hands.
▪ Stay apart from others.
▪ Stay in and report symptoms.
▪ Stay away from people with symptoms.
• Depending on your assessed risk you may be required to:
o Check yourself for symptoms twice per day and report any that you experience.
o Wear a mask continuously when you are not in your suite.
o Be quarantined for 14 days in your suite.
o Be tested for Covid-19 (with your consent).
• We will be asking for your cooperation and honesty in this process so that we can safeguard you and your fellow residents.
• Decisions will be made in collaboration with you, your loved ones if you choose to include them, Home Care and BVRH.
• In the event of an outbreak in a lodge then resident outings may be cancelled or curtailed.
Family Visits in the Lodges
We are working on a way that you can have your loved ones and supports visit you in the lodge. We will be setting up a private visitation room for this before the cold weather sets in. Visits will have to be arranged with BVRH beforehand, and each will be subject to scheduling, visitor screening and masking, and other sound Covid-19 measures, including disinfection of the room before each visit.
Please note that you and your visitors will have to show that you understand the risks involved and the measures to be followed before a visit can take place. A lot of work has gone into this, and there is still a little bit left to go, but you will hear more about this in the next few days.
We are also working on increasing the frequency and variety of activities we can offer in the lodges in ways that maintain the Covid-19 precautions. We are limited in what we can do by the need to physically distance, and to avoid sharing equipment and items during activities, but we are getting somewhere! We are also talking to outside agencies, including Home Care, to get ideas and supports to help keep you active over the coming winter months. Please note that in the event of an outbreak in a lodge, certain activities may be cancelled or curtailed.
SAFETY RULES ARE STILL IN EFFECT, INCLUDING:
• Please continue to arrange for the delivery of things you need.
• Use the designated outdoor spaces for fresh air and exercise when the weather allows it.
• Anyone who leaves the property will be assessed for risk of exposure to the virus and may be required to take action to prevent the spread to others in the lodge.
• Exercise physical distancing always. Even in the lodge, you must stay at least 6 feet or 2 meters apart when interacting with others – it will help save lives and bring a quicker end to this difficult situation. Please, though, do connect with others, whether in the lodge or by phone, outdoor visits, etc.
• Only one person can be in a resident laundry room or elevator at any one time.
• If you feel even slightly unwell, you must call our administration team to let us know and then stay in your suite; we will serve you there. This is a legal requirement.
• REMEMBER to wash your hands before you leave your suite and after you return to it, and to sanitize your hands well before entering and leaving the dining room.
• All lodge residents, employees and essential workers are being screened for Covid-19 daily. No one, not even essential workers can enter the lodge if the screening turns anything up.
INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE TO ALL RESIDENTS:
• Please try hard to be your best and to exercise patience, kindness and cooperation. Failure to do so only makes the pandemic harder on all of us and can, unfortunately, jeopardize your residency with BVRH. Thank you to the many lodge residents who have been kind, patient, thankful and cooperative; people like you make a huge difference for all of us!
Our early and ongoing preparations and efforts have continued to pay off so far; we have successfully held what would have been an absolute tragedy at bay. Let’s keep up the hard but amazing work to keep our facilities virus-free – we need your help, please think about this when you are thinking about leaving the property.
In the coming days you will hear more about visits in the lodge, as well as a survey to assess your comfort level with the pandemic and the measures in place to reduce your risk. Going forward we will only use special bulletins when there are big changes or news to announce, in the meantime please stay tuned to our monthly bulletins for regular updates.
Please get the influenza vaccine this year if you can do so safely. Health authorities are asking everyone to get it as it can help reduce the impact of the pandemic on our healthcare systems. BVRH has arranged for a local pharmacy to come into our lodges to vaccinate those residents and staff members who choose to participate. Stay tuned for details coming soon.
There are several informative posters attached for you.
Thank you and stay well.