COVID-19: New Infection Prevention and Visitation Protocols for Agencies

Late Wednesday, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) released new communications to MCCSS-funded organizations in response to escalating levels of community risk related to Covid-19.  These communications outlined new requirements for infection prevention activities and visitor/visitation protocols for agencies.

This communication outlines requirements for affected organizations in these regions that were required to be implemented on 48 hours notice, including:

Infection Prevention Activities

    • Ensure training has been completed on enhanced PPE protocols during outbreaks.
    • Resident attendance of indoor community services and supports/day-programming only where limited to maximum group size of 5 people (Virtual delivery is STRONGLY encouraged as an alternative)

For information on active screening and IPAC best practices, MCCSS directs agencies to visit the Public Health Ontario website which contains many IPAC tools and resources for various settings.

Visitors and Visiting

    • Short-stay absences must be limited to activities that enable health and important life activities (e.g., school, work, doctors’ appointments etc.).  MCCSS indicates that “as a general rule, a resident is expected to practice physical distancing, hand hygiene and to wear a face covering (with support where necessary) when on a short stay absence. Residents must also adhere to any current local public health unit or municipal requirements related to local conditions.”  MCCSS also noted that specific settings (e.g. schools and offices of regulated medical professionals) may have specific requirements and protocols regarding a short stay absence in those settings.
    • Essential visits and essential overnight absences continue to be permitted, with MCCSS indicated that “essential visitors” are distinct from other visitor types in The Visitor’s Guidelines 2.0: Re-Opening of Congregate Living Settings.  MCCSS directs that agencies can “facilitate, on an individual resident basis, relationships that are necessary to maintain their health, wellness and safety in the context of overarching visitor restrictions.”  MCCSS also encourages agencies to consider the importance of the principles of emotional well-being and flexibility for their residents in addition to infection risks.
    • MCCSS has however indicated that non-essential and designated indoor visits are prohibited;
    • MCCSS also notes that “limited, supervised, non-essential outdoor visits with physical distancing are permitted” but requires that visits must be scheduled in advance;
    • Finally, MCCSS notes that for Youth Justice all non-essential in person visits (indoor and outdoor) are restricted and that the use of technology to promote virtual visits is encouraged, with reintegration leaves for youth in youth justice facilities remain prohibited at this time.

MCCSS requests that agencies continue to consult with The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services’ Visitor’s Guidelines 2.0: Re-Opening of Congregate Living Settings which provides additional information on outings and visits.

We will continue to keep you apprised of these developments as they arise and look forward to discussing these developments in our upcoming webinars.

Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and the article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation.