Right in the centre - Do rules always make sense?


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Sometimes rules make sense and some times they need to be questioned.

I was recently told that new residents at care homes have to be isolated in their rooms for 10 days upon arrival at the care home. I asked Manitoba Shared Health if that was correct and if so, what was the reasoning for that?

A Shared Health spokesperson got back to me with the following answer.

“Manitoba’s guidance is regularly reviewed and updated to balance the need to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread among vulnerable populations with the ability for residents to maintain important in-person connections with loved ones.

Current guidance includes a 10-day isolation period for any person newly admitted or readmitted (including following a period of more than 24 hours in hospital) to a personal care home, who has not had COVID-19 in the past 180 days.

Residents that have not had COVID-19 in the past 180 days will be screened and tested between days five and seven of their 10-day isolation period.

Other measures in place to mitigate spread of the virus in long-term care facilities, such as personal care homes, include:

•Ongoing screening of staff and visitors;

•The use of appropriate personal protective equipment by health-care workers, designated caregivers and general visitors;

•Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices;

•Other protocols which may vary based on the level of COVID-19 activity in the community and the outbreak status of a unit or personal care home.

Health regions do work with individual residents and families to minimize as much as possible the impacts of the 10-day isolation period. It is important to note that while a resident is required to isolate, they are able to continue having designated family caregivers visit them, provided appropriate personal protective equipment is worn.”

I have also found out from first hand family reports that a 10 day isolation means no contact with other residents, meals by themselves in their rooms and in some cases very restricted access by family members.

This may be a case where the rules don’t make sense. I know Manitoba Health is trying their best, but is this isolation process going to achieve the desired results? I question that. While isolating the residents from each other “may” curb the spread between residents, what about the possibility of the staff spreading infection? The staff are in contact with a number of residents. They are out in the community, in contact with their families and friends. Why are the staff somehow less a source of possible infection to residents than residents are to each other? Considering the respective risk, the damage that isolation does and the extra staffing time and costs, I question the need and net effectiveness of this rule.

To look at an entirely different scenario: the construction industry. Consider this, lumber is expensive and there are tons of used lumber available. Most of it heads to the burning pile or the landfill. Many people who are environmentally aware and cost conscious would like to be able to utilize recycled lumber. Trouble is that most planning districts and construction rules don’t allow the use of recycled or used materials. Worse than that, if you buy an old house, to relocate, you may have to take out reasonably good windows, doors and siding to meet code. While construction is very different from health care, it does seem strange that both industries are hampered by rules that don’t make sense.

Our problem is that the rule makers aren’t all that practical. They set up a set of rules and cling to them even when they don’t make sense. That’s a real problem in Canada and it seems especially in Manitoba.

There are likely many other similar situations. I would welcome your input. Email me examples of questionable rules to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.