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Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes

Long-term care and Retirement Home facilities are regularly monitored and supported by Public Health Inspectors. Outbreaks are managed through mandated outbreak management protocols under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. For a list of current outbreaks, please visit the WECHU Outbreak Information Page or for Outbreaks related to COVID-19 only visit here

Directives and Policies

Directives have been issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health for Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes.

Mask Use in Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes

Long-term care homes and retirement homes are directed by the Ministry to ensure that all staff wear surgical/procedure masks at all times. This is a requirement for all homes regardless of outbreak status.

For full guidance on mask use requirements for long-term care and retirement homes review the Ministry of Health Guidance Document dated April 15th, 2020.

COVID-19 Testing for LTCH and RHs

Long-Term Care Homes

On January 27, 2021, the Ministry of Long-Term Care announced that long-term care homes must transition to using point-of-care rapid antigen tests for staff, student placements and volunteers, as well as for caregivers, support workers, and general visitors where permitted entry. Effective February 16, 2021, Long-Term Care Homes in Windsor-Essex County must start transitioning to the use of point-of-care rapid antigen tests and ensure full operation by February 22, 2021.

During the transition period, LTCH should continue to use PCR tests in the frequency outlined in the Minister’s Directive dated January 8, 2021.

Once rapid antigen testing is fully operational, PCR tests will be used only in instances where individuals:

  • are symptomatic
  • have a positive antigen test result
  • have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case
  • are in a home in an outbreak
  • are directed to by local public health

Staff, Students and Volunteers

All staff, students and volunteers working in a LTCH must regularly take a Rapid Antigen Screening Test as soon as practically possible once their shift begins. Anyone who has a positive screening result will need to leave the home and seek a PCR test within 24 hours.

Please see the frequency of testing below:

Frequency of Entering a Long-Term Care Home

Antigen Test Frequency

Two or more days in a 7-day period

Up to three times in the period on non-consecutive days

Once in a 7-day period

“Day of” their visit

Caregivers, Support Workers, and General Visitors

All caregivers, support workers, and general visitors must undergo an antigen test on the “day of” their visit prior to contact with residents, regardless of how many times they attend a home in a 7-day period.

Retirement Homes

All retirement homes should have their entire staff participate in ongoing surveillance testing as outlined in the COVID-19 Testing for Retirement Homes guidance.

  • All individuals working in the retirement homes (e.g. front-line workers, management, food-service workers, contracted service providers, basic aids, and guest attendants) should be tested biweekly.
  • Staff can be tested at an Assessment Centre.
  • The retirement home must provide each staff member with a requisition form for testing. For details on how to complete the requisition, see this link. This form must include an assigned investigation number (INV) for use by the Assessment Centre.
  • Permitted visitors to retirement home residents do not need to attest (verbally or in writing) that they have received a negative COVID-19 test.

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Last modified: 
Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 11:46am