Essential caregiver presence and general visiting

Visitors and essential caregivers are important to the well-being of our patients and residents. As we are still in a pandemic, we continue to limit the number of people in our buildings. St. Joseph’s must continue to balance protecting everyone from COVID-19, while safely expanding access to visits with patients and residents, ensuring adherence to all public health measures.  We strongly encourage essential caregivers and visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to entering our buildings. 

Patients and residents of St. Joseph’s may have visitors based on specific criteria (outlined in the chart below) aligned with Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopening and Ministry of Long-Term Care directives.    

Who qualifies as an essential caregiver?

An essential caregiver is a person identified and designated by the patient/resident – a family member, friend, neighbour – who provides important personal, social, psychological and/or physical support, assistance and care. An essential caregiver does not have to be living with the person they are supporting or biologically related to the patient/resident. An essential caregiver must be at least 18 years of age. The maximum number of essential caregivers that can be registered for each patient/resident varies by care area. Ask your loved one’s care team for details.

To arrange a visit, please call ahead

Many patient areas have limits on the number of persons permitted in a room at any given time, due to physical distancing protocols. As such, patients/residents, and all visitors must schedule visits in advance. Speak to the care team for details. 

Visiting hours

Essential caregivers and visitors are welcome at any time of day, in advance consultation with the care team. Please note that quiet hours are from 10 pm to 7 am daily, to help promote a restful environment for our patients/residents’ well-being. See the chart below for further details on the number of essential caregivers, frequency and duration of visits permitted, based on the provincial Roadmap to Reopening and directives from the Ministry of Long-Term Care.  

To protect everyone in our buildings from COVID-19, all visitors and essential caregivers must:
  • Follow the permitted number of visitors/ visit frequency as outlined in the chart below;
  • Visits must be pre-arranged. Patients/residents or visitors can request a visit through any member of the care team;
  • Stay home if feeling unwell, have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19;
  • For bedside visitors, you must have received your COVID-19 vaccination. For the month of July, you must be two weeks post your first vaccination; in August, you must be two weeks post your second vaccination.
  • Any visitors who have traveled outside of the country must comply with the federal requirements for returning to Canada, including any quarantine requirements and COVID-19 testing.
  • Pass all screening criteria for signs and symptoms of illness upon entry at designated entrances; if an essential caregiver or visitor fails screening, they will not be permitted to enter and visit at that time. This applies to both indoor and outdoor visits.
  • Follow established infection control measures including continuously wearing the provided personal protective equipment (PPE), performing hand hygiene as directed and practicing safe physical distancing from other patients, staff and visitors;
  • Not visit anyone other than the intended patient/resident and access designated visiting/care presence area(s) only;
  • Adhere to any time restrictions as required (outlined in the below chart);
  • Consider and explore with your loved one’s care team the opportunity for virtual visits as a way of reducing in-person visits;
  • Inform the patient’s/resident’s care team immediately if symptoms develop either during or following a visit.
  • We ask that all essential caregivers/visitors wear eye protection when inside our facilities. Eye protection and masks are available at the screening desk upon entry.

*Essential caregiver presence or visits may be revoked as a result of ignoring or defying the requirements or policy guidelines, as it is essential that St. Joseph's protects the safety and health of all patients, residents, staff and essential caregivers.

Essential Caregiver and Visitor Restrictions Effective June 16, 2021*

*We are currently in Step Three

Visiting Guidelines

All essential caregiver and general visitor visits are determined in partnership with patients, residents and program areas to accommodate length and location of visits in keeping with infection prevention and control protocols. Virtual visits and telephone options can be arranged in consultation with the care team.

Patient Population

Step Three

Inpatient stay 
(excluding palliative care and short stay surgery) All indoor and outdoor visits must be pre-arranged
Indoor visits (at the bedside or in a designated indoor area):
  • Up to two essential caregivers and one general visitor can visit for a total of up to two hours daily.
  • In ward rooms, more than one patient at a time may have visitors at the discretion of the care team and if physical
     distancing is possible.

Outdoor visits:
  • Up to five visitors daily, who have been screened and masked; physical distancing from other groups of five must
     be maintained.

Patients in isolation:
  • Daily, at the bedside, one essential caregiver can visit up to two hours with required personal protective equipment

Day passes and overnight stays:
  • Available for fully vaccinated patients, proof to be provided. Passes can be alone, with staff or with essential
     caregivers. Those on overnight stay, must be tested and be placed on precautions upon return until negative result
     is received.
Outpatient appointment/procedure One essential caregiver for duration of appointment
Urgent Care Centre (UCC) patients One essential caregiver for duration of UCC visit
Short stay surgery (Estimated length of stay less than three days) Two essential caregivers in consultation with the care team.
Palliative Care No limit on number of essential caregivers; no limit on frequency; maximum of two caregivers and one general visitor daily or in consultation with the care team
Actively dying No limit on number of essential caregivers; no limit on frequency; maximum number of caregivers per visit to be
determined with the care team
*Long Term Care and
Veterans Care Program

All indoor and outdoor visits must be pre-arranged
Indoor visits
  • Residents may have up to two general visitors and two essential caregivers at a time for an indoor visit (a maximum
     of 4 visitors at a time).
  • Indoor visits can occur in the resident's room or other designated areas.

Outdoor visits
  • Residents may have up to 10 people at a time for an outdoor visit.
  • Outdoor visits can take place in the immediate vicinity of the home.

*As per Ministry of LTC Directive (Dec. 7, 2020) as well as their COVID-19 Visiting Policy (supplement document: "COVID-19: Visiting Long Term Care Homes"-July 7, 2021). This policy is intended to supplement Directive #3 and the Minister's Directive, as well as to support homes in implementing the requirements in Directive #3 to safely receive visitors while protecting residents, staff and visitors from COVID-19.