Visitor pods will arrive and are to be set up and in place by the end of the month,” says Ken Oberlin, director for Virden’s Sherwood Home and Elkhorn’s Elkwood Manor.
The pods are shipping containers that are being re-designed by PCL Constructors Canada.
Electrical supply and other preparations have already begun so that when the new visiting room arrives the hook-up will go smoothly and as quickly as possible.
Visiting in person atcare homes in Manitoba came to a halt last March, when COVID-19 was recognized as a very contagious and dangerous virus for elders.
In the warmth of Manitoba’s summer season, outdoor visits became popular, but with fall here and winter on the way, the Manitoba government is providing special self-contained visiting rooms to attach to personal care home facilities.
At present, under Code Yellow (COVID-19 provincial response) up to two visitors can enter the Sherwood to visit with a resident within their room, but distancing six feet from the resident, as prescribed by Manitoba health officials. But the rooms are small.
“People can come in,” said Oberlin, “but it’s limited.” For a car ride, he says, “There are provisions to take family members out.”
In fact, recreation director Chelsey Davies said a small group outing was planned. “We are going to take two different groups out in the handi van, in two drives in the country. Limited numbers, but still we’re able to go.”
Even under social distancing rules, recreation activities have continued. “We still social distance in here,” says Oberlin. Their activities are set up six feet apart.
Meal times also require distancing. “Our dining spaces are spread out into multiple rooms in the building to give residents more distance than normal, between.”
Residents are not quarantined to their own rooms and they tend to sit near the same people every day, “like who they’d have for neighbours at home,” Oberlin says. “But anything we set up, not knowing who is going to sit where, we still have to do the six feet (distance), like anywhere else.”
The new pods will provide additional safety for visiting. They will be attached to the residence by a heated, covered walkway. A separate entrance will provide access from the outside for visitors. Before coming, visitors will need an appointment and will be screened to ensure they are healthy and eligible to visit.
The visitation pod will have an air exchange, designed to help prevent air borne viruses from spreading.