Feds change nursing home visitation guidelines
Because isolation from family members is taking a toll on nursing home residents, federal health officials this past week revised visitor recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday recognized that restricted visitation at nursing homes since March has “taken a significant toll on nursing home residents.”
The agency issued detailed recommendations on how to safely facilitate visitation indoors and outdoors, and in situations categorized as compassionate care, such as when the patient is dying.
“While we must remain steadfast in our fight to shield nursing home residents from this virus, it is becoming clear that prolonged isolation and separation from family is also taking a deadly toll on our aging loved ones,” agency administrator Seema Verma said.
Outdoor visitation poses a lower risk than indoor visitation, but indoor visitation can be allowed if there have been no new virus cases in the past two weeks and the facility is not doing outbreak testing, the agency said.
Other requirements for indoor visitation include social distancing, wearing a mask, and practicing hand cleanliness. Staff should monitor visitors who might have difficulty following those requirements, such as children.
The number of visitors to a resident and to the entire facility at a single time should be limited based on the building’s size and space.
CMS recommends visits should be scheduled for a specified length of time to help make sure all residents can receive visitors.
Visitors should not be allowed to walk around inside the facility but go directly to the patient’s room or a designated visiting area.
Visitation should not take place in shared rooms.
Compassionate care visits should include scenarios such as a resident struggling with change of environment, grieving after a death, needing encouragement eating or drinking and losing weight or dehydrated, or who is showing emotional distress such as seldom speaking and frequently crying.