The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a Frequently Asked Questions document on visitation for nursing home residents that provides clarifications and considerations including:
Visitation for compassionate care situations
- CMS clarifies compassionate care situations are not exclusive to end-of-life situations. An example is provided explaining a resident who was living with their family prior to being admitted to the nursing home may experience trauma due to the change in their environment and sudden lack of family. Therefore, this may qualify as a compassionate care situation.
- CMS encourages creative means of connecting residents and families including visitation outside of the facility while ensuring all actions for preventing COVID-19 transmission are followed.
- Residents (without COVID-19 symptoms) may eat in the same room with social distancing.
- Group activities may be facilitated (for residents who have fully recovered from COVID-19, and for those not in isolation for observation, suspected or confirmed COVID-19 status) with social distancing among residents, appropriate hand hygiene, and use of a cloth face covering or facemask.
Steps for reopening to visitors
- Nursing homes should continue to follow CMS and CDC guidance for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and follow state and local direction.
- CMS does not recommend reopening facilities to visitors (except for compassionate care situations) until phase three when the following criteria are met:
- No new onset of COVID-19 in the nursing home for 38 days
- No staff shortages
- Adequate supplies of PPE and essential cleaning and disinfection supplies
- Adequate access to testing for COVID-19
- Referral hospitals have bed capacity on wards and ICUs
Factors to consider regarding visitation
- CMS encourages that any decisions to relax requirements or conduct creative alternatives within nursing homes be made in coordination with state and local officials after a careful review of facility-level, community, and state factors/orders.
To access the complete FAQs document from CMS’ Current Emergencies webpage, CLICK HERE.