Nursing homes may now allow visitation, including physical touch
Get the full list of CMS guidelines and restrictions from VP Pence
As they continue to support America’s healthcare facilities through the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have released new guidelines for safe nursing home visitation. Released on September 17th, the memo advises state survey directors that in-person visits may occur, but under specific conditions.
Since March of 2020, facility visitation has been limited to essential healthcare personnel and end-of-life situations. After six long months, operators may now allow family and friends to reunite with loved ones. Residents can also partake in communal dining, group activities, and other campus events—as long as social distancing rules are observed.
Read the Full CMS Report for detailed guidelines
Reunited and it feels so good
To celebrate the milestone, Vice President Pence and CMS Administrator Seema Verma sat down to discuss the memorandum and its changes.
“Outdoor visits are encouraged. Indoor visitation is allowed if there’s no new cases in the previous two weeks and if certain core principals—like screening, resident and staff testing, hygiene, social distancing, and cleansing–are put into effect,” said Pence. “Nursing home facilities will continue to use the COVID-19 county positivity rate to determine the degree to which indoor visitation can take place.”
Although any in-person visitation is a huge step forward, facilities should still be cautious. In fact, CMS is now allowing CMP funds to be used to create “accessible and safe outdoor spaces for visitation,” such as tents, patios, and courtyards.
To safely accommodate and support in-person indoor visitation (aside from compassionate care visits), operators must adhere to the Core Principles of COVID-19.
Core Principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention
- Screening of all who enter the facility for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., temperature checks, questions or observations about signs or symptoms), and denial of entry of those with signs or symptoms
- Hand hygiene (use of alcohol-based hand rub is preferred)
- Face covering or mask (covering mouth and nose)
- Social distancing at least six feet between persons
- Instructional signage throughout the facility and proper visitor education on COVID-19 signs and symptoms, infection control precautions, and other applicable facility practices
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in the facility often, and designated visitation areas after each visit
- Appropriate staff use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Effective cohorting of residents (e.g., separate areas dedicated COVID-19 care)
- Resident and staff testing conducted as required
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