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Consumer Voice Recommendations on Nursing Home Visitation Policies During COVID-19

The closure of our nation’s nursing homes was intended to protect residents and slow the spread of the coronavirus, yet it has done far more than that. Visitation bans have fueled massive heartbreak for the families and elderly loved ones who the virus has directly and indirectly impacted over the past year. Family members are integral to nursing home residents’ wellbeing, but with strict restrictions on visitation, residents have been separated and kept in isolation, and the collateral damage thus far is immeasurable.  

Amid sobering statistics on nursing home residents’ health, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) requested on March 3, 2021, that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) take urgent measures to safely reopen the doors of nursing homes. In an effort to end the devastating effects of isolation and neglect on residents, the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) signed on the recommendations presented, endorsing the necessity and effectiveness of such actions. 

CMS Wants to Open Nursing Homes to Visitors ASAP 

Lockdowns have led to spikes in deaths not related to COVID due to social isolation stemming from intense stress, rapid declines in health, and neglect in care. Coupled with nationwide shortages in nursing home staff and chronic illness among residents, the health and safety of these vulnerable groups are being pushed even further aside. Consumer Voice calls on CMS to make “visitation mandatory,” saying: 

“It is time to open nursing home doors in a safe and sensible way. The visitation ban was imposed to protect residents from harm and death due to COVID. Yet the decline, harm, and death of residents from isolation and neglect is just as serious and significant as harm or death due to COVID” 

The goal of their recommendations is to combat the above issues, get residents the support needed, and unite families. The complete list of the recommendations proposed are as follows: 

  • All residents should be appointed an essential support person (ESP) to advocate for their physical and psychological needs. ESPs should have 24/7 access to residents and be considered part of the staff for infection control purposes. 
  • Facilities should allow indoor and outdoor visitation for all residents. All visitors must follow the Core Principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention, which includes a screening of symptoms, COVID tests, hygiene, face coverings, and social distancing. 
  • In-person end-of-life visits must not be restricted to those in hospice or in their final moments. 
  • Entry of other providers of service and representatives must be permitted. 

Consumer Voice requests that these recommendations be implemented at the state and federal levels. 

Dalli & Marino Advocates for the Lives of Nursing Home Residents 

At Dalli & Marino, we strongly support these recommendations and believe that they will enhance residents’ quality of life. In addition to these recommendations, there is one critical recommendation we’d like to suggest, and that’s putting our powerful legal advocates on your side. For decades, our mission revolves around ensuring that NYC nursing home residents get the care they signed up for and deserve. 

If you believe you have a nursing home abuse or neglect case, or if you lost a loved one who was exposed to COVID-19 in a nursing home, call (888) 465-8790 or complete our contact form immediately. Let us know what we can do to help.