Government issued public health orders to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, among seniors and at-risk groups for the following settings:
- Hospice settings
- Long-term care facilities
- Licensed supportive living facilities, including seniors lodges and group homes
- Licensed residential addiction treatment centres (under the Mental Health Services Protection Act)
Licensed supportive living, long-term care and hospice settings
Expectations for visiting have changed. These changes will ensure we continue to protect at-risk Albertans while helping them remain socially and emotionally connected.
The changes include the expectation that operators develop a safe visiting policy and process in collaboration with residents and families. Other changes include:
- Each resident or alternate decision maker may identify up to 2 designated family/support persons who are essential to maintaining resident mental and physical health.
- Multiple residents may have the same designated family/support persons.
- Non-designated family/support persons may be allowed to visit.
- This will be determined by resident health and circumstance and the risk tolerance assessment of the site.
- Designated family/support persons are not required to be present for visits from others.
Any visiting person with symptoms of COVID-19 or known recent exposure to COVID-19 will not be permitted entry. All visiting persons should know their risk of unknown exposure to COVID-19 and take steps to protect residents and staff including consistent hand hygiene practices, physical distancing and wearing a mask indoors.
- Guidance on visiting policy (Order 29-2020) (July 16, 2020)
- Fact sheets:
- Video: Safe Access to Congregate Living Residents
Operational and outbreak standards
Operational and outbreak standards help ensure seniors and other at-risk individuals living and working in these facilities are kept as physically safe as possible. These standards are updated as we learn more about COVID-19.
The list of COVID-19 symptoms is expanded for residents of these facilities. Residents may experience milder initial symptoms or be unable to report certain symptoms.
Any resident must be isolated and tested if they show any of the following symptoms:
- Fever (37.8 °C or higher). Note: Thermometer confirmed temperature is not required. If a resident feels they have a fever, testing will be offered.
- Any new or worsening respiratory symptoms:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion or stuffy nose
- Hoarse voice
- Sore throat or painful swallowing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Any new symptoms, including but not limited to:
- Muscle or joint ache
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or unexplained loss of appetite
- Feeling unwell, fatigue or severe exhaustion
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Altered mental status
Expectations of staff and operators
- Staff must immediately tell their supervisor if they have worked in the last 14 days or are currently working at a site (or elsewhere) where there is a confirmed outbreak.
- Staff are limited to working within one single designated supportive living or long-term care facility to help prevent the spread of illness between facilities.
- All staff providing direct resident care must wear a surgical mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace if they are in direct contact with a resident or cannot maintain adequate physical distancing.
- Enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols.
- Continue to support meaningful interactions.
- Staff and management are responsible to follow all Public Health guidelines applicable to all Albertans.
Expectations of residents
- Residents must remain vigilant in their actions to protect themselves and others.
- Residents who are not required to isolate are still encouraged (but are not required) to stay on the facility’s property.
- Should a resident choose go off facility property the resident is responsible to:
- Maintain physical distancing of 2 metres
- Wear a mask at all times
- Ensure safe transportation
- Maintain good hand hygiene
- Be screened upon re-entry
- Understand their risk of unknown exposure to COVID-19
- Understand any safety precautions that may be required upon their return (self-checks, masking when outside of their room or quarantine)
- Resident Fact Sheet: Resident Safety Precautions (PDF, 417 KB)
- Residents, families and friends are also responsible to follow all Public Health guidelines applicable to all Albertans.
- Residents moving in to facilities and returning from outings will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days as a blanket approach.
- Residents and Operators will now be asked to review the resident’s risk of unknown exposure to COVID-19 and make a determination on the most appropriate safety precaution.
- Low Risk: Twice daily symptom checks for 14 days
- Medium Risk: Continuous use of mask for 14 days while out of resident room
- High Risk: Quarantine for 14 days
- This approach will target those who are most at risk of unknown exposure to COVID-19 and help improve quality of life for those who are at lower risk.
Protecting against variants of concern
Additional measures have been implemented to protect seniors and other at-risk individuals living and working in these facilities in the event of a COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC) outbreak.
Due to the potential increased transmissibility, potential increased severity of illness and unknown aspects of VOCs, stricter protocol is necessary as soon as an outbreak is confirmed.
- Close contacts will be isolated and tested for COVID-19.
- Non-close contacts will be offered serial rapid screenings to ensure early detection of any additional spread.
- Everyone entering the facility must wear a surgical/procedure mask and eye protection at all times.
- Staff who are working in the VOC outbreak unit must not work at any other job until the outbreak is declared over.
Updated operational and outbreak standards
- Updated operational and outbreak standards for licensed supportive living and long-term care (Order 32-2020, effective September 17, 2020) – September 3, 2020
- Variant of Concern Outbreak Protocols (Order 03-2021) – February 24, 2021
We publicly report locations of outbreaks in these facilities when there are 2 or more people with confirmed COVID-19. Find a list of COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta, updated on Tuesday and Friday each week.
Residential addiction treatment centres
New standards are in place to protect residents at residential addiction treatment facilities from COVID-19 while supporting service provider’s ability to continue to provide services to those accessing treatment.
Measures in place are similar to those in continuing care facilities with special accommodations for group therapy and outdoor visits and to support the shorter residency of clients.
Updated operational and outbreak standards
See Chief Medical Officer of Health Order 27-2020 (July 3, 2020):
- Appendix A: Updated operational and outbreak standards for residential addiction treatment service providers
- Appendix B: Health Screening Questionnaires
Call or text 211, or visit ab.211.ca to get help finding resources in your community. 211 is a comprehensive referral system accessible to all Albertans.
Communications from the Chief Medical Officer of Health:
- Letter to operators in Edmonton Zone: Reassessment of CMOH Order 29-2020 (Oct. 26)
- Letter to operators in Calgary Zone: Reassessment of CMOH Order 29-2020 (Oct. 29)
- Letter to operators in Central, South and North Zones: Reassessment of CMOH Order 29-2020 (Oct. 29)
- Letter to all residents and families: Rising COVID-19 Numbers (Nov. 20)
- Letter to all staff in licensed supportive living, long-term care and hospices: Rising COVID-19 Numbers (Nov. 20)
- Letter to all licensed supportive living, long-term care and hospice families: Enhanced health measures & congregate care settings (Dec. 18)
- Letter to all licensed supportive living, long-term care and hospice residents: Enhanced health measures & congregate care settings (Dec. 18)