Long-Term Care and COVID-19



On January 14, 2022, the COVID-19 outbreak on the Birch Long Term Care and Alder Tertiary Mental Health units at St. Vincent's: Langara were declared over by Public Health.

A total of four residents tested positive on Birch. Social visits to Birch will resume on Monday, January 17, as staff require a few days to ensure the safe resumption of social visits.

A total of 13 patients tested positive for COVID-19 on Alder. Social visits can immediately resume to Alder.

The Cedar Long Term Care Unit remains under outbreak precautions. Visitation continues to be limited to essential visits only. At this time, 28 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and tragically, three residents have died.​

We are also currently managing a small number of COVID-19 cases on the Aspen Unit, although we do not anticipate the need to call an outbreak and social visits can continue. Precautions have been implemented, and Public Health and Providence Health Care are working closely to monitor and manage the situation.


On January 4, 2022 the Public Health Officer announced updated changes to the visitor restrictions. We appreciate your support and patience as we implement this new directive amidst the rise in Covid-19 community cases.

  • As per the announcement from the Public Health Officer on December 21, 2021, all visitors are to undergo rapid testing for Covid-19 prior to their visit starting on January 07, 2022. Currently PHC is offering and strongly recommending visitors test prior to their visit. 
  • Effective this week and in alignment with the roll out of rapid testing for visitors, residents in long term care may receive visits from a single designated social visitor (1 per resident) and continue to receive designated essential visits when approved by site leadership.
  • It continues to be a requirement that all visitors be vaccinated, with exceptions for those with medical exemptions or end of life visits. Rapid tests will be mandatory for these visitors effective January 7th also.
  • Masks are required at all times during the visit, even when alone with the resident or in a single room.

Social Visits:

  • Please identify the designated social visitor (1 per resident) to the site leadership.
  • The designated social visitor is not required to be approved by site leadership.
  • A reason for changing out the designated visitor is to be communicated to site leadership in advance, ie extenuating circumstances such as illness, etc.
  • Social visits may occur without an appointment or advance notice
  • Social visits may occur in the resident rooms (one visitor per room) or in areas that will allow for adequate physical distancing.
  • There is no time limit for visits but please respect that space is limited and only one visitor is allowed per room. 
  • No social visits will occur during a Covid-19 outbreak

Essential Visits:

The BC Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) defines an essential visit as “an essential need that could not be met in the absence of the essential visit.” This can include:

  • Visits for compassionate reasons including critical illness, palliative care, hospice care, and end of life.
  • Visits paramount to the resident’s physical care and mental well-being (e.g., assistance with feeding, mobility, personal care or communication, assistance by designated representatives for persons with disabilities).
  • Visits for supported decision-making.
  • Visits required to move belongings in/out of a resident’s room.
  • Essential visits shall be limited to one visitor per resident within the facility at a time (except in the case of palliative/end-of-life care). Based on resident needs and at the discretion of the site leadership, there may be more than one essential visitor for some residents – determined on a case by case basis at the discretion of the site leadership. 
  • An essential visit is not a social visit and essential visits are permitted in a care home/residence that has an active COVID-19 outbreak, under guidance and direction from the local medical health officer.

We will continue to work over the next weeks to assure alternate forms of visitations can occur. Should there be any questions about the essential-visit requirements or designation of a social visitor, please contact the home and allow some time for a decision or response. We will continue to communicate updates and any future changes to visitation guidelines and protocols.

We want to reinforce that we are being extra vigilant in all our homes these days, responding quickly to any COVID-related exposures to residents or staff, stepping up our infection prevention and control protocols to mitigate against virus spread, and communicating to you any COVID-related issues that arise.

Visiting Appeal and Patient Care Quality Office

Our visiting appeal process remains in place as follows:

If you have any concerns or challenges with your visits, we ask you connect with a care team leader or resident care manager.
In the event you are not satisfied with the decision by the care home, you are encouraged to contact Patient Care quality Office (PCQO) at 604-806-8284 or email them at phcPCQO@providencehealth.bc.ca for re-consideration.

In the event you are not satisfied with the response on behalf of PHC, the issue may be escalated to the Provincial Health Officer via PCQO or independently by mail to: Hlth.visitorappeal@gov.bc.ca.

Additional Information for your visit:

  • Visits with your loved one in our care homes no longer require pre-booking or time limits.
  • Prior to arriving to the care home, we ask you self-screen for COVID-19 using the BC Thrive App or website. Should you have any symptoms, please do not come to the care home and follow BC thrive app guidance for seeking a COVID-19 test.
  • To accommodate the expected increase in visiting, while upholding physical distancing and supporting resident safety, we have established visiting hours and a maximum capacity for each neighbourhood. WorkSafe BC and site capacity safety plans inform the maximum number of people for safe visitation.
    • Visiting hours will be up to 1800 (6pm) to accommodate screening practices. If you require a visit outside of these hours, please connect with the resident care manager who will be pleased to accommodate your visit.
    • Visitor Capacity will be determined by each individual care home. If you are concerned about your ability to visit due to space constraints, please call ahead to confirm. Screeners and visitation support workers will provide guidance around capacity when you arrive.
  • Due to the increased volume of visits required without pre-booking, we anticipate there may be challenges with sharing spaces for visiting while trying to maintain physical distancing. In order to accommodate everyone’s needs, we ask you to be considerate about the length of your stay and the space you are occupying.
  • Visiting in rooms with multiple residents:
    • Wherever possible, we encourage you to visit with a resident outside of their room in a separate dedicated location. If you have any concerns, please connect with a care team member.
    • Should you choose to visit a resident in a multi-bed room, we ask you limit your party to less than 3 people, with only one group visiting at a time.
    • At the advice of our medical health officer, if visiting in a multi-bed room, we require you to wear a medical grade mask and close the curtain.
    • If you are wanting to have a larger group (i.e. greater than 4 people), we ask you call ahead so we can help accommodate your visit while ensuring physical distancing.
  • Visits outside care home:
    • If you are planning a visit outside of the care home or overnight, similar to practice prior to the pandemic, we ask you organize and discuss the logistics with a care team member. This ensures any resident care needs (including medications) can be planned around.


  • As per the Public Health Order and Ministry of Health (MoH) directives, you will now be required to show proof of your vaccination status. This directive supports public health decision making in the event of a COVID-19 exposure in the care home.
  • When arriving to the care home for your first visit, the screener will ask you to show proof and will document this. You will not be required to show proof at subsequent visits. Your information is confidential and will not be shared with others.
  • If you are not fully immunized*, or do not show proof, you will be denied entry to the facility. Exceptions related to compassionate care, such as end of life care, will be considered on an individual basis with additional preventative measures required to support visits involving partially or unimmunized individuals.
  • Visitors who do not demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated may visit outdoors in space that does not require entry to or passage through the facility. Partially or unimmunized visitor are required to follow and adhere to all IPAC requirements, including wearing a medical mask for the duration of their visit.
  • *Fully Immunized is defined as seven days after receiving the full series of a World Health Organization (WHO) approved COVID-19 vaccine or a combination of approved WHO Vaccines.

Visitor Vaccination Requirements

Effective October 12, 2021

  • All visitors to long-term care and assisted-living facilities are required to have received a single dose of vaccine to be able to enter a facility (excluding children under 12 years or those with an approved medical exemption). 

Effective October 26, 2021

  • All visitors to long-term care, assisted-living and acute-care facilities must demonstrate they are fully immunized to enter a facility.
  • Visitors are required to show proof of vaccination prior to entry, including just to pass through the facility to access an outdoor space. Proof of vaccination is considered to be an electronic or a printed copy proof; issued by the government in the form of a QR code, accessible here. Includes the individual’s name and issued for the purpose of showing proof of vaccination.
  • Visitations for non-vaccinated visitors can occur outside the facility and masks are required at all times
  • Medical masks are required by all in facilities regardless of vaccination status

Exceptions related to compassionate care such as end-of-life, will be considered on an individual case basis. Those who require the exceptions, should contact the facility care director.

Please click here for more information on mandatory visitor vaccination in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living.


  • Hand Hygiene and respiratory etiquette remain critical measures to reduce the transmission of COVID- 19 and other common bugs which can have a detrimental impact on residents and the care home. We ask you continue to be diligent about performing hand hygiene at the beginning, throughout and at the end of your visit.
  • Screening practices remain in effect upon arrival of your visit. Screeners will continue to request contact information and keep a daily visiting log to ensure compliance with contact tracing measures.
  • Physical distancing remains a key precaution. We ask you be mindful of maintain a 2m distance from others wherever possible. Visitors are still asked to limit movement around the care home.
  • Personal Protective Equipment:
    • Fully immunized visitors will be required to wear a medical mask while moving through the care home and in common areas but are not required to wear a mask while in direct contact with the person they are visiting.
    • In the event of an outbreak or a resident being on isolation precautions, please call ahead to determine whether or not you may proceed with a visit.
    • The care team will not monitor visits, however may provide a gentle reminder if a visitor is not following an IPAC precaution.


  • Visitors will not require any routine testing on site. If you are experiencing symptoms, please do not visit and follow guidance on the BC thrive App for testing.


  • As we work to operationalize the recent directives from the MoH, we will be starting to hold care home social events and gatherings. At this time, we will be able to invite visitors to participate in outdoor social gatherings only. All gatherings will align with active provincial health orders.


An updated policy for mask use in health care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic was issued on August 31. What key changes came with the mask policy?

Health care workers (clinical and non-clinical staff):

Regardless of immunization status, all persons working in long-term care, acute care hospitals, stand-alone extended care hospitals designated under the Hospital Act, seniors’ assisted living settings and provincial mental health facilities must wear a medical mask at all times, including in common areas and break rooms unless eating and/or drinking.

Visitors, regardless of immunization status, must wear a medical mask according to the overview of visitors in long-term care and seniors’ assisted living.

What health care settings are affected by this policy?

  • Long-term care
  • Acute care hospitals
  • Stand-alone extended care hospitals designated under the Hospital Act
  • Seniors’ assisted living settings
  • Provincial mental health facilities

Where else should medical masks be worn?

  • The pre-existing medical mask orders still stay in place for all the health care facilities and settings where health care is provided.

Who else should wear masks?

  • Visitors:
    • All visitors must wear a medical mask when entering and moving around any health care facility, including clinical and non-clinical areas.

Who is exempt from the mask policy?

  • People under 12 years old
  • People unable to wear a mask because of a health condition or physical or mental impairment.
  • People unable to put on or remove a mask without help from another person.

Please click here for more information on the masking policy.

For more information regarding Providence Health Care's COVID-19 response please click here.

FIND More multilingual COVId-19 resources here 

NEW! Read the St. Paul's Foundation's 2019-20 Impact Report on Seniors & Long-term Care


Click on the below image to download the informational brochure.


We are continually working with our health care partners, the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Officer, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. This includes ongoing planning and discussions to ensure we are fully prepared at our long-term care facilities. This has been taking place for quite some time now, well in advance of the pandemic declaration. Of course we will be continuing this work in the days and weeks ahead, and when necessary, enact extra measures to ensure our residents and families are safe.