Updated Visitor Policy in Long Term Care

Published on September 03, 2020

The Ontario government is releasing an updated visitor policy for long-term care homes to help operators implement consistent visiting practices across the province. The updated policy clarifies guidance on visits from caregivers and other visiting rules that homes are to implement as of September 9. Since March, ‘essential visitors’ to long-term care homes have been defined in directive and guidance documents as including individuals performing essential support services, or those visiting a very ill or palliative resident.


Under this umbrella, ‘caregivers’ are essential visitors and important partners in care who provide direct care to residents — such as helping with feeding, mobility, hygiene, or cognitive stimulation. They can be family members or friends, privately hired caregivers, paid companions or translators. Operators have been encouraged since March to facilitate visits by caregivers, however, implementation has been inconsistent. The updated policy provides operators with clarity that caregivers are allowed to visit homes at any time, including in during an outbreak, subject to direction from the local public health unit. This will support better implementation across homes.


The updated visitor policy outlines that:

  • Each resident and/or their substitute decision maker may designate a maximum of two caregivers
  • Caregivers can visit at any time, without time limits
  • If a home is not in outbreak, and the resident is not self-isolating or symptomatic, caregivers can visit together. If a home is in outbreak, or the resident is self-isolating or symptomatic, they must visit one at a time to limit risk of transmission and follow direction from the local public health unit’.


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