Medical masks now mandatory in long-term care and assisted living
The provincial government has now made medical mask use mandatory in health care facilities in B.C. to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. This new policy reflects current evidence and best practices regarding infection, prevention and is directed at staff as well as visitors to facilities.
As we continue navigating the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic cases are rising in many parts of the world. Our union has advocated for widespread mask use since March to protect the public and frontline workers like you. As your safety at work is our top priority, we applaud the government's decision to make medical mask use mandatory in health care facilities for the remainder of the pandemic.
Below are the requirements as outlined by the Ministry of Health:
Health care workers and non-clinical staff:
- All persons working in a long-term care facility or seniors assisted living residence must wear a medical mask at all times, including in common areas and break rooms unless eating and/or drinking.
- All visitors in a long-term care facility or seniors assisted living residence must wear a medical mask at all times.
See more details on the new provincial policy here.
Please note that it is the employer's responsibility to ensure compliance with mask use requirements. If the requirements are not being followed in your workplace, exercise your right and responsibility to immediately notify the following people:
- your supervisor; and
- your Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) representatives (either your local BCGEU area office, or our union's OHS department)
Last week, B.C.'s seniors advocate also released the results of a province-wide survey on the impact of visit restrictions at long-term care and assisted living homes. The advocate's recommendations include three key actions:
- designating an essential care partner who can visit frequently to provide support
- allowing at least one additional social visitor to reduce long-term family separation
- better embedding the voice of residents and their family members in decisions on care delivery through the creation of a provincial association of long-term care and assisted living resident and family councils
The BCGEU welcomes these recommendations to improve the well-being of seniors during the pandemic. Should they be implemented our union will monitor for any impacts to workers that may need to be addressed.
Again, we want to commend and thank you for all you are doing to keep our communities healthy and safe during this challenging time. We would not be able to pull through this pandemic without your extraordinary efforts!
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