With many long-term care residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19, many nursing homes across the country are again allowing visitors. A year-long lockdown has left many assisted living facility residents depressed and lonely, which can be detrimental to their health, Kaiser Health News reports. However, many facilities were awaiting new safety guidelines for allowing visitors back in.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) this month issued updated guidance for visitation in nursing homes. The guidance noted that facility workers can set up visits in various locations depending on the building’s structure and the residents’ needs, including the residents’ rooms, indoor visitation areas, and outdoor spaces. Staff need to assure indoor areas have proper ventilation, are cleaned after visits, and are large enough to allow people to spread out.
CMS recommended that facilities allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless the COVID-19 positivity rate in the county is greater than 10% and less than 70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated. In the case of a COVID-19 outbreak, a facility should not restrict visitation for all residents, as long as there is evidence that the transmission of COVID-19 is contained to a single area of the building. Facilities should continue to adhere to CMS regulations and guidance for COVID-19 testing, including routine staff testing, testing of individuals with symptoms, and outbreak testing.
Visits for compassionate care, such as an end-of-life situation, should be allowed at all times for any resident (vaccinated or unvaccinated), regardless of the scenario. In addition, facilities and visitors should continue all infection prevention and control practices.
CMS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to recommend that facilities, residents, and families adhere to core COVID-19 protocols, including physical distancing, mask wearing, and frequent cleaning and disinfection.
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