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Veterans Centre and Palliative Care Unit - COVID-19 Information

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Infection, Prevention and Control for Caregivers and Families: A free self-paced online course from McMaster University

This free resource allows you to acquire skills and knowledge for managing prevention and control of infection, and gain access to a wide variety of helpful resources.

Upon completion of the course, you will receive a co-branded McMaster University Continuing Education and Desire2Learn certificate to recognize your achievement.

Below you can find information about changes made to the Veterans Centre programming and visitation due to COVID-19, as well as other COVID-19 related information specific to the Veterans Centre and the Palliative Care Unit. For all general information about COVID-19 from Sunnybrook, please visit

If you have any questions about the below, please contact the resident or patient's unit directly. 

- Last updated July 17, 2021

Questions specific to the Veterans Centre

Can I visit my relative at the Veterans Centre?

Any visitor (Essential Care Partners and general visitors) may visit in the Veterans Centre, during visiting hours, on any day.

You do not need to schedule your visits in advance and visiting hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. We are recommending two (2) visitors at a time, up to a maximum of 4. We ask that groups of 3 – 4 confirm arrangements with your care unit 24 hours in advance, to ensure that your group can be accommodated at the preferred time within our physical distancing restrictions (in particular for shared rooms).

Please consider the schedule and routine of your family member when visiting in the Veterans Centre. The residents want to be ready and prepared for their visit with you. If you are unable to attend for any reason, please call the care unit and your family member to let them know. If you have any questions about your visits and the time that would work best, your health care provider will be happy to discuss that with you.

All visitors must wear a mask at all times when visiting, this includes the outdoor garden areas.

We are requesting that you visit in your 'family bubble' only. When you are on the care unit you must remain in the room with your family member.

Signage has been placed in common areas to ensure safe seating and physically distanced visits.


  • Under 2 years of age may join a visit without being counted in the visitor total. No testing is required; a mask is not required
  • Greater than 2 years old must adhere to the same testing and/or vaccine requirements as adult visitors
  • Older than 2 years old must bring and wear their own paediatric mask, follow the visit guidelines such as physical distancing, masking, hand hygiene and remain with their visit group
  • Children younger than 14 must be accompanied by a responsible adult

Do we have to remain physically distanced during our visits?

Visitors who are:

  • Fully vaccinated (2+ weeks beyond your 2nd dose): may have a closer contact visit
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated (1 dose, or 2 doses but not yet 14 days after 2nd dose): these visits must be physically distanced, with the exception of brief hugs

All visitors must wear a mask at all times when visiting.

What can I expect when I arrive to check in for a visit?

Upon entrance at the L-wing or K-wing (until July 25) visit entrance for any type of visit (indoor or outdoor, including scheduled Garden/Annex visits), you will be screened for symptoms and asked to choose to show either:

  • Proof (paper or digital) of full vaccination status, i.e. that you are at least two weeks beyond your second dose of vaccine
  • Proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours prior to your visit.

Where can we visit? Can we access the K-wing gardens and Warriors Hall?

Visitors now have access to the public spaces in K and L-wing. The public spaces include: L-wing fireplace area (ground floor), Warriors Hall, K-wing garden, on unit lounges, gardens, the Artisan and Resident Accounts office. Please note that there may be limited space on the care units (i.e. lounges), however visiting in the larger spaces off unit is preferred.

Thank you for following the guidelines for physically distancing, masking and hand hygiene. We will try and politely remind you of these safety precautions.

You must visit in your family bubble. At this time, you may not visit with other residents and family members. Signage has been placed in common areas to ensure safe seating and physically-distanced visits.

Visitors may access Sunny’s with their family member, although they must remain masked and cannot share food. The resident may partake of a food or snack in Sunny’s if there is adequate room (i.e. outside of main meal times for staff), or bring the food back to their room.

May I take my loved one (a resident) outside of the facility?

Visitors may take the resident off of the unit or for a day pass (i.e. walk around the grounds, or visit outside of the facility). Please inform the care unit if you are going off site.

What is the plan for the current pre-scheduled Annex/Garden visits?

Scheduled Annex and Garden visits will remain in place until July 25, 2021 (last day of scheduled visits), at which time the entrance to K-wing Centre area will be closed. The new visitor entry requirements articulated above apply to these visits.

Following this closure, you will enter at the L Wing entrance, present to the screening area and proceed to visit with your family member on the care unit or any of the public spaces that have been noted in this communication.

May I plan a larger social gathering with my family member and how many people may attend?

Families/residents may schedule a social gathering, one family at a time, of up to 10 people at a reserved outdoor space in the gazebo located in the K-wing garden. A reminder that there is not a washroom facility in the outdoor area. For safety reasons, group gatherings must remain outdoors at this time.

These gatherings may be requested by contacting the Recreation Therapist and/or Patient Care Manager on your care unit. Gatherings may be booked from 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., with a maximum of 2 hours in length.

Food and drink may not be shared as all visitors must remain masked. Residents may have refreshments. The opportunity to share food and drink will be reviewed in the next phase of re-opening.

May we bring pets into the facility to visit?

We welcome our pets back to the Veterans Centre, while continuing to follow the guidelines for pet visits, please consult with your care unit for the pet visiting policy information and that you need to sign in preparation for your visit.

  • Pets to remain on a short leash and be in control at all times
  • Your pet may visit in the resident room on the unit or outdoors
  • Proof of pet vaccinations must be produced if requested
  • Pets are not permitted in Warriors Hall, L wing lobby, Sunny’s or public areas inside the facility.

When can paid companions return?

We are working to develop a safe plan to have our companions and caregivers back on site.

Once we have an update for you it will be shared in this newsletter. Thank you for your patience and we continue with our re-opening strategies.

Why does the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre have different visiting policies for its residents than long term care homes?

Sunnybrook Veterans Program is a hospital-based complex continuing care facility, and not a designated long-term care home.

We care for over 300 Veteran residents whose average age is 96. As a complex continuing care facility, these Veterans are at some of the very highest risk of serious outcomes from COVID, should it become entrenched in our facility. We therefore have taken significant care of the health and safety of our Veterans throughout the pandemic.

Our visitor guidelines are being constantly evaluated with the advice of our Infection Prevention and Control experts, and take into account:

  • GTA hospital visiting guidelines
  • various residential guidelines including those in the LTC sector
  • Sunnybrook’s unique facility layout, and
  • specific risk factors.

In addition to in-person visiting that is updated on these pages, virtual visiting options are available as well.

We have been monitoring the physical and mental health and well-being of our Veteran residents throughout the pandemic, which have been sustained. We continue to offer many social and therapeutic activities and programs to engage and stimulate.

We have received positive feedback from many Veterans and family members about the visiting framework as it has evolved through the pandemic, and the majority are in support. Veterans especially have been asked their feelings and are in support of the approach and the programming that is being offered to them.

There is a mechanism for exceptions to the standard visiting, and for appeals.

Please stay tuned to our visiting updates on this page as we look forward to next phases in our visiting and expanding options as Ontario continues to recover from Wave 3 of the pandemic.

How can I connect with my loved one?

Connecting with your family member is of utmost importance during this time. You may reach out to your healthcare team to discuss visits with your family members in a format that is equitable and beneficial.

Aside from in-person visits, alternative options for connecting with your loved one may include telephone calls, emails/photographs or virtual visits.

What are you doing to protect Veterans and those in Palliative Care, those who may be at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19?

We are taking all precautions, including limiting the number of people on site and offering vaccinations to residents, patients, staff and Essential Care Partners (ECPs) who visit.

Our Infection Prevention & Control team is diligent in ensuring the best practices are maintained to protect our patients, residents, visitors and staff. This includes cleaning surfaces often, limiting visitors and using the proper personal protective equipment when needed.

We appreciate your support in keeping everyone safe.

Will there be entertainment for residents of the Veterans Centre?

Opportunities for social interaction, physical activity and engagement will continue through unit-based programs and therapy services.

We continue to use technology to bring entertainment and engaging activities (i.e. pet therapy and bingo) to the units.

Do the Veterans and staff all wear masks/PPE?

Anyone who enters the Veterans Centre must wear a mask. Masks are provided to those who pass screening. All staff wear masks and face shields or goggles with direct patient care; in some cases, additional PPE is required.

Veteran residents continue to have masks available to them, should they wish to wear them.

We are taking every precaution including additional screening and cleaning measures to preserve the health and well-being of all residents and staff. More information at

Can I drop off a care package, flower or food delivery for a resident or patient?

We are happy to deliver your care packages to Veterans and patients for you. Please review these important requirements when preparing the package (no donations for staff please):

  1. A known family member must provide items only for their immediate relative.
  2. We can accept homemade food for patients. It must be a single portion – no leftovers, no multiple meals, or shared food. Food must be safe to remain at room temperature due to variability of delivery timelines to the units. Any leftovers will be disposed of and containers will not be washed or returned.
  3. Notes from friends and family member to your loved one are welcome.
  4. Please deliver packages to the screening desk from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. for same-day delivery by our staff. Hand hygiene must be performed before and after the delivery. Please have the care package labeled and kindly exit the building immediately to maintain a clear and COVID-safe entry way. We will deliver the package to your family member. We cannot assume responsibility for lost items.

You may also consider purchasing an item online from the Sunnybrook Gift Shop and sending it to your loved one using the shop’s free delivery service.

Questions specific to the Palliative Care Unit

Who may visit a patient who is in the Palliative Care Unit?

We continue to welcome our visitors back to the Palliative Care Unit with a reminder that we politely share safety guidelines when requirements are not being met, such as:

  • reminding to physically distance
  • wearing a mask at all
  • keeping visits within families.

A patient on our palliative care unit is eligible to have full visitors if he/she is:

  • not on admission isolation
  • not a person under investigation (PUI), and
  • not actively COVID infectious.

How many visitors can an eligible patient have?

There is no longer a visitor list. For patients who are eligible for full visitors (e.g. patient is not on admission isolation, a PUI, or actively COVID infectious), only two visitors per patient may visit in the building at a time.

If more than two visitors are required, the health-care team will offer direction for this request.

If a patient at any time is significantly approaching end of life (or death), the substitute decision maker (SDM) will be contacted to offer visits during hours outside of the usual daily schedule. If a patient’s condition improves, the team will discuss a plan for returning to regular visits.

What are the visiting hours?

8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Guidelines for visits

  • Visitors will present to the K-wing East entrance for the visit. A visitor presenting at the entrance must be wearing a mask and sanitize their hands upon arrival. The visitor's name will be on a list at the door and visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Do not visit if you are unwell. Visitors will not be permitted in the hospital if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • In and out privileges are permitted within visiting hours.
  • Visitors may use public washrooms only (K1W and K1C lounge).
  • Our visitors are permitted to purchase food from Sunny’s, however they are not permitted to eat at Sunny’s. Please use the same elevators (K1W) we use to go to the palliative care garden.
  • A garden area is designated for our palliative patients and families, accessed through the K1W elevator. For more information, please discuss with your health care provider.
  • Pets are allowed to visit, in line with our pet visitation policy (pets to remain on a leash, visit in the patient room on the unit or outdoors, utilize a short leash and be in control at all times, proof of vaccination must be produced if requested).

View all information about COVID-19