Nursing Home Visitation

Nursing Home Visitation and What You Need to Know

Family caregivers have been constrained from nursing home visitation for months. Now they are concerned about an epidemic amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The epidemic is an epidemic of loneliness affecting both residents inside and their loved ones outside. The loneliness of residents in nursing homes is common. Our society has long failed to value and prioritize the elderly and sick.

Epidemic of Loneliness

And now, the pandemic has further intensified the isolation of these residents because of well-intentioned efforts to protect them from the virus. The unintended consequences have been damaging to the mental health and emotional well-being of many nursing home residents.  Confusion, depression and a general decline in mental health have  been noted in more residents.  Health workers see  lack of appetite, resistive behaviors, and neglect of self-care among residents as more  indicators of loneliness.  Caregivers and family members across the nation have recognized the negative impact of isolation and have voiced concerns.

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New Visitation Rules

Since September, 2020, the federal and state rules to allow personal visitation in nursing homes have been updated to address the psychological and social needs of residents and their family members and friends.  The guidelines were issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The latest document states, “CMS understands that nursing home residents derive value from the physical, emotional, and spiritual support they receive through visitation from family and friends. In light of this, CMS is revising the guidance regarding nursing home visitation during the COVID-19 PHE”.   CMS stated that “visitation can be conducted through different means based on a facility’s structure and residents’ needs.”  Such as in resident rooms, dedicated visitation spaces, outdoors, and for circumstances beyond compassionate care situations.  Also included are precautions to protect staff and residents against the virus.

These precautions include;

    • Masks & PPE
    • Hand sanitizing
    • Surface sanitizing
    • Resident and staff testing
    • Social distancing.

The guidelines give information about how to conduct indoor and outdoor visitation, communal dining, and communal gatherings. Violations of the visitation guidelines,  without adequate reason, are considered as cause for citations or other enforcements.

What Caregivers Can Do

Caregivers should read the CMS newest guidelines and discuss visitation rules and opportunities at their loved one’s nursing home with an administrator. For further questions about being involved in visitation at your loved one’s nursing home during the pandemic, see the tips on a fact sheet, “Covid-19 Family Advocacy Fact Sheet for Individuals” from the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.

The Consumer Voice is a national advocacy organization representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, and providing information for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates and ombudsmen.

Within reasonable guidelines, your loved one’s nursing home is open for safe, socially distanced, personal visits in most situations across our nation.

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