Essential Visits and Changes

Posted on: April 7, 2021

Essential visits are a vital part of care and recovery, and we need to continue balance the need for safety with the need for connection between individuals and their families. Read on to get updates on the latest status of essential visits in LTC/AL and Acute Care.  


Effective April 1st, the visitor policy for long-term care and seniors' assisted living has been updated to support safe, meaningful visits while adhering to infection prevention and control principles. Each facility will implement the policy as appropriate for their residents and families in a careful and thoughtful way. The changes include (read more here):

  • Family/social visits are no longer limited to one designated family member or friend. Additional family members and friends are allowed with a maximum of two adult visitors (plus one child) at the same time if the visit is indoors.

  • Residents may have more social visitors outdoors, in an appropriate location, and in alignment with current provincial health officer guidelines. Infection prevention and control measures (e.g., visitors must be screened for signs and symptoms of illness prior to every visit, practice hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette – cough or sneeze into elbows sleeves and dispose used tissues properly – and wear medical masks) must be followed.

  • There are no longer restrictions on the location, frequency, or duration of visits, and visits can now take place in residents' rooms.

  • Physical touch between residents and their visitors is now allowed with infection prevention and control measures in place.

  • Every resident is entitled to regular, routine, frequent opportunities for social visitation, allowing for a minimum of 60 minutes if desired.

  • Residents will be supported to leave the facility for appropriate outings and family visits (not just essential outings). Residents will not be required to isolate when they return from an outing.


At this time, there are no changes to the essential visits policy in acute care; however, it's a great reminder that when sound infection prevention and control requirements are in place, we can and should facilitate essential visits for families and patients – particularly those with a life limiting illness and at end-of-life.

Find acute essential visit resources, including support with Palliative and End of Life Care Visits, on the COVID-19 Website under 'Visitors'.​