Bethany Sylvan Lake residents are able to have more visitors as restrictions ease

Restrictions at continuing care facilities are starting to ease.

Restrictions are starting to ease at Bethany Sylvan Lake. (file photo)

Restrictions are starting to ease at Bethany Sylvan Lake. (file photo)

Restrictions at continuing care facilities are starting to ease with the Alberta government’s two-phase approach.

The first phase will lift remaining visitor restrictions, current limits to dining and recreation activities, and additional screening for residents who go off-site.

These changes come because of the increase in vaccination rates, said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw in a press release.

“This is a measured, practical approach that lifts restrictions in an incremental manner as our vaccination rates continue to climb. The restrictions lifted today will go a long way to improving residents’ quality of life while critical protections will remain in place to protect their health.”

At Bethany Sylvan Lake this means the 40 long term care and 21 supportive living level floor residents will be able to see friends and loved ones who haven’t been their designated visitors for the first time in close to 18 months, says Care Service Manager Deb Andersen.

“We’re really excited about that.”

People are social creatures, says Andersen.

“Social interactions are beneficial to mental health and being apart from our loved ones has taken a toll on the mental health of residents and families as it has had with the broader community.”

On July 13 visiting restrictions at Bethany Sylvan Lake were lifted and the facility has until July 31 to get the new recreational and dining restrictions in place, said Andersen.

The recreation team has done a fantastic job in keeping everyone connected, says Andersen.

“The staff have encouraged and facilitated virtual visits as much as possible. Our residents have missed their family and seeing them as much as they have but I never got the sense that they felt completely isolated cause there has always been connection in different ways.”

After the changes were implemented visitor numbers have gone up, says Andersen.

“I think having four designated visitors for the last four months most residents have gotten to see who is most important to them.”

Visitors are still required to wear masks in all common areas while in the facility and have to do a health screening upon arrival.