It has been a very long 18 months for the residents and staff of long-term and continuing care facilities like Bethany Cochrane. The announcement last week from the Alberta Government of the lifting of restrictions at continuing care facilities was welcomed news by all.

The lifting of restrictions will happen in two phases with the first phase encompassing no visitor limitations and no limits to dining and recreation activities. Plus, residents are no longer required to be screened upon re-entering the building nor have to quarantine if they have been off-site.

Monica Johnson, Site Administrator with Bethany Cochrane, “For our residents, it means that they will be able to have some additional visitors that over the last 18 months they haven’t been able to have. So, I know they are looking forward to maybe some additional family that wasn’t able to fit into the four visitor group. They were previously allowed four designated visitors so that restriction has been lifted.”

Bethany Cochrane is now at a pre-pandemic recreation level and Johnson says, “We are able to look at all our recreation programming and really right away, start planning for the rest of the summer.” That brings a source of fun, joy, and excitement to residents and staff. Plus, everyone can start planning for some of the bigger events like the Remembrance Day Ceremony and Christmas which are very special to the senior residents.

Johnson says the lifting of restrictions is a weight off of not only the residents but staff as well. “It was a lot of pressure on our staff and they felt the burden of the restrictions, but we are happy to protect our residents. So now they are really looking forward to doing some happier things.”

Some health protocols will remain in place to ensure the safety of residents and staff and include screening upon entry and continuous masking for staff, students, volunteers, and service providers. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection routines in common areas. Single-site staffing requirements. Testing guidelines. Isolation, quarantine protocols, and outbreak procedures. It is also strongly encouraged that those that are not fully vaccinated, including children under 12 wear a mask when visiting.

The lifting of the restrictions in continuing care facilities, like Bethany Cochrane, truly is a dawning of a new day for those that live and work in such environments.

Hope and excitement shine through with the return of a new normal after weathering the many dark days of the pandemic.