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Every resident has the right to have at least one support person visitor permitted to visit in-person until the time when full visitation rights can be restored.

Visitation is one of the most important and cherished rights of persons in long term care facilities.  Visitation enhances the quality of life and the quality of care for all residents who receive it.  Visitors provide crucial psychological and decision making support, direct care, and monitoring and supervision of care.  Most importantly, visitors provide a loving familiarity that offsets the often traumatic impersonal nature of long term care facilities.

Residents’ rights to visitation was one of the first casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Additionally, residents have lost the on-site assistance of long term care Ombudsman programs and state inspectors.  Residents have suffered largely alone as COVID-19 has ripped through facilities killing residents.

A support person visitor (SPV) is a spouse, partner, family member, or friend chosen by a long term care resident to visit on-site and provide emotional, physical, and other support to theresident.

All long term care residents have the right to designate the SPVs of their choice.  If the resident lacks the capacity to designate SPVs, the resident’s representative may designate for the resident.  The resident’s representative may choose to serve as a resident’s SPV or select other people to serve as SPVs.

The designation of SPVs shall be entered into the resident’s record.

Disputes regarding an SPV designation can be made by filing a grievance with the resident’s facility.  If the disputant disagrees with the outcome of the grievance, they can file a complaint with the appropriate state agency.

SPV visitation shall be subject to reasonable visitation hours set by the facility.  The SPV must comply with all reasonable infection control precautions set forth in writing by the facility such as health and symptom screening, wearing of PPE, and social distancing from staff and other residents.  SPVs may be required to comply with the same precautions that apply to the facility’s staff and may be required to complete any applicable state-endorsed training and certification program for visitors.

Facilities are required to accommodate a resident’s right to SPV visitation, including the use of available indoor and outdoor space for visits.

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions on safely restoring visitation.