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Some States Now Allowing Nursing Home Visitation

nursing home visitation

For millions of American families, the COVID-19 pandemic has been marked by heart wrenching policies banning nursing home visitation.  Now, as many states roll back the strict policies initially put in place when the pandemic began, some families may finally have the opportunity to see their loved ones in person. 

According to a new report from CNN Health, some states are rolling back nursing home visitation bans.  With new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nursing homes can start using more creative means of allowing visits from family members. 

States Allowing Nursing Home Visitation

So far, 26 states are starting to allow nursing home visitation, while 18 others are planning similar visitation guidelines for assisted living facilities. 

nursing home visitation

Just because visitation is allowed, doesn’t mean that families are off the hook.  Nursing homes allowing visitation will require visitors to follow certain guidelines.  These guidelines include:

  • Families must schedule a visit in advance
  • Visitors will undergo a temperature check and answer COVID-19 screening questions
  • Only one or two visitors can visit at a time
  • No hugs or physical contact is allowed
  • Visits will take place outside on a patio or garden area
  • All visits will be supervised by a staff member
  • Visitors must stay six feet away from residents and staff

If a resident or staff member develops COVID-19, then the facility will, once again, ban all nursing home visitation.  Also, if state officials note a significant rise in COVID-19 cases, they may change these guidelines or re-implement no-visitation policies. 

What are the Risks of Allowing Nursing Home Visitation?

After almost four months in isolation, families feel some relief knowing they can visit their loved ones.  The strain of isolation and the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on the physical and mental health of nursing home residents.  Residents must stay in their rooms a lot of the time. They have limited human interaction, even with other residents or staff. 

And as much as allowing nursing home visitation seems to be a positive step, there are some risks worth noting.  Primarily, nursing home residents are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.  Around 40-45 percent of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities.  Initially, banning visitation and quarantining residents was an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.  Unfortunately, the virus made its way in and wreaked havoc on residents and staff. 

Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

Despite the risks, families believe that their loved ones will benefit from interaction and familial involvement.  Many families have expressed concerns about nursing home abuse or neglect during the lockdown.  Without their direct oversight and involvement, families are worried that their loved ones may not receive adequate care, and there is nothing they can do about it. 

Another benefit to allowing nursing home visitation is that residents can start to feel more at-home and independent.  There is no question that living in what some consider solitary confinement for four months has been difficult for nursing home residents.  Some resident advocates believe the lockdowns are “cruel” and “inhumane.”

Advocates also note that lockdowns have taken an emotional toll on family members as well.  Since early on in the pandemic, families have suffered not being able to visit their loved ones, even as they were dying.  Family members who ordinarily would be by their loved one’s side were forced to stay away without the ability to see their loved one or say goodbye. 

Learn More about Nursing Home Resident Rights

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and has changed the way that nursing homes operate.  Even so, nursing home residents still have rights.  They have the right to quality care that meets their needs and ensures a safe and healthy life.

If you have concerns about the quality of care that your loved one is receiving in a nursing home, contact Nursing Home Abuse Center.  Our legal team can help you understand the rights of nursing home residents and ensure that your loved one gets the care that he or she deserves.  Even during a pandemic and lockdown, we want you to know that you are not alone. 

We hope that you will have the opportunity to participate in nursing home visitation.  Then, if you have questions or concerns, give us a call.  You can reach us toll free at 1-866-548-9636.