Family visits resumed at long-term care facilities on Vancouver Island in July after residents after their families were kept apart for four long months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Island Health says it has been closely monitoring the visits and says they may be expanded in the coming weeks.

Ruby MacDonald, a resident of Cairnsmore Place in Duncan, now enjoys regular visits from her son and says seeing him “is the most wonderful thing.”

Site Manager at Cairnsmore Place, Gail Kerrone says seeing residents reunited with their loved ones is an “incredibly emotional” experience.

Visitor restrictions were implemented in March to protect the vulnerable residents and their caregivers from COVID-19.

Kerrone says the team at Cairnsmore had “stepped up immensely to provide love and support and be like family for those folks who haven’t been able to see their own families.”

Island Health wants to facilitate visits as much as possible, but doing it in a safe manner while also incorporating enhanced cleaning measures has created more work for the staff.

Tim Orr, Island Health’s Director of Long-Term Care says they’re pleased they are able to safely allow the visits.

According to Orr, families are anxious to see their loved ones, but at the same time, “staff are working hard to arrange visits while protecting residents from COVID-19.”

Staff at Cairnsmore Place did their best to fill the void for residents and over the past several months a lot of time was spent setting up phone and virtual visits on tablet computers and smartphones and reading letters from loved ones.