Federal Memo Restores
Nursing Home Visits!
On September 17th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a memo to the states, restoring visitation in nursing homes. CMS is requiring facilities to permit visitation whenever a facility has had no new COVID outbreaks for 14 days and the community positivity rate is less than 10%. Facilities required to permit visitation are encouraged to have outdoor visitation, weather permitting, but are also required to accommodate indoor visitation, including in resident rooms, when outdoor visits are unavailable.
Facilities are encouraged to implement a number of protective measures during visits, namely visitor screening and social distancing. Facilities are even encouraged to test visitors for COVID. But the bottom line is that facilities may only restrict visitor access when the community positivity rate is greater than 10%, the facility has an active COVID outbreak or had a new case within the last 14 days, or the visitor has symptoms or fails to follow infection control protocols. Even in those situations, facilities cannot restrict visitation, unless it has a “reasonable clinical or safety cause” and in California, all nursing homes are required to permit outdoor visitation, no excuses.
The memo also expands the concept of compassionate care visits, which can take place despite facility COVID outbreaks and community positivity rates, and makes federal funds available for supplies needed to accommodate safe visitation.
CMS’s memo is loaded with language to support visitation in nursing homes and includes mandates eradicating the terrible 6-month visitation ban that has broken the hearts of a million families. Visitation is back in nursing homes! If you know of any holdouts that continue to bar visitation in California, please contact CANHR.
“By The Window” song written by Holly Ann Lewis and used here with her kind permission. Visit her website at https://hollyannlewis.com
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) is participating in a national effort to restore reasonable visitation to residents in long term care facilities. Simply stated, the harms caused by cutting residents off from visitors have become unbearable. Residents throughout the country are suffering profound social isolation, frustration, and neglect. The federal and state governments locked up facilities for over 100 days and are just now beginning to ease the visitation ban.
The new California state policies outlined above may have been partially motivated by the #VisitationSavesLives campaign. Now that residents are having some of their rights restored, this campaign will now advocate for better state enforcement.
Join CANHR by posting a picture or video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and telling us why visitation is important to you. Use the hashtag #VisitationSavesLives and tag or email key policy makers. Have a look at our Social Media Toolkit.