Mass COVID-19 testing needed for residents and staff in long-term care: Safecare BC

SAFECARE BC, the health and safety association for BC’s 28,000 continuing care workers, is recommending BC’s Ministry of Health implement a provincial policy of mass testing all residents and staff at care homes whenever a resident or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

It points out that this is already happening in Alberta and Ontario and helps with early intervention to manage the spread of the disease sooner and contributes to the psychological well-being of staff.

“Staff are currently living in fear that they could bring COVID-19 into the care home or home to their families. This is a huge mental health burden that our healthcare workers shouldn’t have to bear,” said Jen Lyle, CEO, SafeCare BC, on Tuesday. “As we are seeing increased community spread of COVID-19, a mass testing strategy for those living and working in care homes makes sense. It’s a prevention tool, because the sooner we can identify cases, the better we can reduce the risk of transmission.”

The association says that additionally, a mass testing strategy will also enhance the safety in care homes, as more people begin visiting family and friends in care. The development of rapid testing options offers an opportunity to test people at the point-of-entry, providing an added layer of safety to current screening protocols for staff and visitors.

“With almost 70% of COVID 19-related deaths in BC residents of care homes, and with the number of cases continuing to rise in BC, we can’t delay in implementing a province-wide policy on mass testing,” said Lyle. “We know that cases weren’t identified as early as they could have had mass testing been done. And this can have tragic consequences for our seniors and for those who care for them.”