Mrs. Jones has been able to see her family periodically due to the implementation of outdoor visitation. At times her assisted living had to pause the visits due to smaller outbreaks of COVID-19 in the community and among staff and residents.
Now, with the new Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services guidance, and guidance from the Ohio Governor, facilities are now starting to do indoor visitation. The new guidance relies on the same criteria as the outdoor visitation with additional reporting requirements for the facilities. The guidance for outdoor and indoor visitation now takes into account the following:
1. Case status in the surrounding community
2. Case status in the home(s)
3. Staffing levels
4. Access to adequate testing for residents and staff
5. Personal protective equipment supplies
6. Local hospital capacity.
In addition, new to the visitation rules are options for “compassionate care” visitation. This enables families to secure indoor visitation with their loved ones based on decline that the resident experiences. The following are examples of times that a compassionate care visitation may be appropriate:
1. A resident who was living with their family before being admitted to a home is struggling with their change in environment and lack of physical family support.
2. A resident is grieving after a friend or family member recently passed away.
3. A resident needs cueing and encouragement with eating or drinking and is experiencing weight loss or dehydration.
4. A resident who used to talk and interact with others is experiencing emotional distress, seldom speaking, or crying more frequently.
While this is a great step forward, there are still some restrictions in place. However, this is an important step towards re-introducing normalcy to residents and their families while enabling them to stay safe as we manage and navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19.
If you have questions about your options for visitation with your family, please give us a call. Again, a perfect solution that pleases everyone has not been found, but together we can work through barriers to help one another and ensure residents are supported. The ombudsman program can be reached by calling 419-259-2891. If we can’t answer your live call, please leave a message with your name and contact number so that we can follow up with you and talk about your experiences.
Chris Stieben is Director of the ABLE Long-Term-Care-Ombudsman Program, which can be reached at 419-259-2891 (http://ombudsman.ablelaw.org).