The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services collaborated with the CDC and put out new guidelines on March 10 that allows nursing homes to safely expand visitation.
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Recently updated federal guidance for nursing homes is leaving some Arkansas families confused and frustrated.
The guidance is regarding what family members can and can’t do while visiting their loved ones at a long-term care facility.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, known as CMS, collaborated with the CDC and put out new guidelines on March 10.
It allows nursing homes and assisted living facilities to safely expand visitation options, but some, like Dana Johnson, said it’s not being followed everywhere.
“I was excited for all of these people I saw on Facebook that were posting about hugging their loved one and everybody was excited and I am happy for them, but then we go to ours and they’re like, ‘no you still can’t hug,'” she said.
Johnson has watched her Granny struggle through the last few months as isolation really sunk in.
“It was just hard on her to go from all of her grandkids and great-grandkids coming into see her to nothing,” she said.
The concern over the loneliness causing the family, Johnson said just days ago, to begin compassionate care visits.
“Not sure why she’s losing so much weight, but it’s hard on us to see her do that, so we’re hoping that this will fix that,” she said.
Johnson was hopeful with the new CMS updates and the passing of the state’s “No Patient Left Alone Act”, that she’d be able to hold her Granny once again, but she said that’s not the case.
Rachel Bunch, with the Arkansas Healthcare Association, describes the new guidelines as good news.
“We’re trying to take it a day at a time and every visit definitely looks different, every resident is different,” she said.
Now, according to Bunch, people can schedule reoccurring visits inside homes that don’t have any COVID outbreaks.
“These people have waited a long time to see their loved ones and we want to support as much family interaction as we can in the safest way possible,” she said.
So what is the safest way?
Bunch said family members don’t have to be vaccinated to visit loved ones, but they must wear a mask at all times and go through the screening process at the door.
According to CMS, indoor and outdoor visitations are preferred if social distancing is maintained throughout, but Bunch said an embrace during the visit is okay, since the quality of life remains a number one priority.
“We definitely understand how important family interaction is and how much these things matter,” she said.
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