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What is the long term care facility visitation ban all about?

California (along with many other states) and federal guidance to long term care facilities largely prohibits residents from receiving in-person visitation due to fear of spreading COVID-19.  The ban on visitation has been in place since mid-March 2020.  While some facilities have been permitting outdoor or window visits, most have not.  The vast majority of long term care facility residents have not seen their friends or families in person for months.

What is the problem with the ban?

The ban harms residents.  It has not been successful in keeping COVID-19 out of facilities as more than half of nursing homes and a large number of assisted living facilities have experienced outbreaks.  Meanwhile, residents are suffering and even dying from neglect, loneliness, and profound depression.  Family member visitors provided vital direct care to many residents, making sure they were fed, hydrated, active, and engaged.  Visitors also supervised care, identified health problems, and reported problems.  All of these services that keep residents safe and healthy were lost with the visitation ban.

Doesn’t the ban protect residents from COVID-19?

Limiting the number of people who interact with residents does protect them from COVID-19.  That is why it is important to limit visitation to ensure minimal additional risk.  We are advocating for strict screening of visitors and strict protocols for visitation.  Visitors should submit to the same screening and protocols the facility staff members are observing.  That means temperature checks, donning PPE, handwashing, and social distancing from staff and other residents.

What can I do?

Reach out to policymakers and tell them your concern.  The campaign to restore visitation will continue until residents’ full legal rights to visitation are once again honored in every long term care facility. See more suggestions on our Social Media Toolkit page.