Ocean View Continuing Care Centre in Dartmouth is one of those facilities, and its doors are closed to visitors at this time.
“The biggest concern when we have an outbreak is ensuring that we can do everything possible to minimize the spread and also maintain the residents’ quality of life,” said Angela Barrette, the home’s executive director.
Barrette reminds nursing home visitors to take preventative steps this flu season, to protect the vulnerable residents within them.
“The biggest thing for us is encouraging people to wear their masks and perform hand hygiene. It’s really the best way to keep the residents safe,” she said.
Nova Scotians roll up their sleeves during respiratory virus season
She adds that improvements have been made to the COVID-19 response since the pandemic began. There is an infection control practitioner on site, as part of government rules that were put in place at the start of COVID-19.
In a statement, the province’s Department of Health and Wellness said visitors should monitor for any symptoms and be “vigilant in their efforts to keep the virus away from these settings.”
“All Nova Scotians are encouraged to get both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves and create safer communities for more vulnerable people, including seniors,” wrote spokesperson Marla MacInnis.
“Our seniors in long-term care have received COVID-19 and high-dose flu vaccinations to help reduce the severity of those diseases if they do get them.”
The department adds that long-term care homes have experienced “expected increases in all respiratory viruses during this respiratory season” and expect cases to increase.
But the union representing thousands of health-care workers says the province should be doing more.
“They’re taking their word that they’re coming in without something. They may not know that they have the virus. Without a mandatory masking on those visitors, it’s spreading,” said Sandra Mullen, the president of the NSGEU.
Mullen says the health-care system cannot afford more strain from an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
“It’s taking those staff who were already working short-staffed, and taking more staff out on short-term illness, with the COVID, so it’s a serious concern for them,” she said.
Mullen says the only way to reduce pressure is to ensure these facilities are fully staffed.
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