Successful Negotiation With Long-Term Care Home Permits Essential Visits
Residents’ daughter challenges long-term care home’s outdated understanding of public health guidelines
VANCOUVER, BC: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased to announce that Justice Centre funded counsel, Charlene Le Beau, was able to assist her client in obtaining access to visit her parents in their long-term care home.
The Justice Centre was contacted by the client in December 2022, as one of her parents was in dire need of personal care and attention that the care home could not provide. The client had not taken a Covid-19 vaccine, as she was concerned about the vaccine’s safety. Following the visitor guidance authorized by the BC Provincial Health Officer under an order issued February 5, 2021, visitors to the care home needed to show proof that they are fully vaccinated with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine in order to enter the care home.
The guidance for “essential visitors” to long-term care homes changed on November 7, 2022, such that visitors providing “essential visits”, as defined in the guidelines, were exempt from having to show proof of vaccination. Although the change was effective November 7, 2022, the change was not made known to the public until December 29, 2022.
The care home was not even aware of the change to the guidance until mid-January 2023 when Ms. Le Beau brought the change to their attention in a letter. Ms. Le Beau’s client qualifies as an “essential visitor” of both her parents for several reasons, including issues relating to health, language, and mental health. “The care home was violating my client and her parents’ constitutional rights. Indeed, they were in violation of the law since November 7, 2022”, states Ms. Le Beau.
When the care home was made aware of the change to the guidelines, they presented the client with an agreement to sign that was not in compliance with the new guidelines. After a second letter was sent to the care home by Ms. Le Beau, they changed the agreement so that the terms were in accordance with the guidelines.
As a result, the client was able to enter the care home for the first time in 1.5 years to provide the essential care and assistance that was required for her parents. The client and her parents were overjoyed. Since being able to visit her parents in the past month, Ms. Le Beau’s client has noted a significant improvement in her father’s overall functioning, as has the staff at the care home. “The importance of essential visitors to care homes cannot be overstated. Indeed, given their advanced age and healthcare needs, it is likely that most residents in care homes require essential visitors to support their emotional and physical well-being. As such, this important role must be protected and preserved”, noted Ms. Le Beau.
She further added, “This case is an example of the need to challenge authority through lawful action. The public needs to be aware that their legal rights may be being violated by government entities who are either not aware of the law, or who put up resistance to complying with the law. Had my client simply accepted the care home’s assertion that she was not permitted entry to the care home without proof of vaccination, the status quo would likely have remained”.