As COVID-19 rages on, governments around the world are taking stricter measures to protect senior citizens in nursing homes by limiting their physical interaction with families. In the U.S., the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued these new measures which are intended to keep the nursing home residents safe. These measures implement new rules for family communication with nursing home residents during the pandemic.
Measures To Protect Senior Citizens in Nursing Homes
“As we learn more about the Coronavirus from experts on the ground, we’ve learned that seniors with multiple conditions are at highest risk for infection and complications, so CMS is using every tool at our disposal to keep nursing homes free from infection.”
These new measures supersede previous CMS guidelines and include the institutions’ most aggressive recommendations to lock nursing homes in a safety cushion in the face of the spreading coronavirus. These measures include:
- Restricting all visitors effective immediately, except for compassionate care ( in end-of-life cases). In such cases, visitors will be given personal protective equipment like masks and the visit will be limited to a specific location in the building only.
- Canceling communal dining and group activities
- Restricting volunteers and nonessential healthcare staff and other personnel like barbers etc.
- Implementing screening of nursing home residents and healthcare staff for respiratory symptoms or fever.
CMS’s guidance was developed based on CDC recommendations delivered by real-time information gathering from experts in the field and in areas where there is a large number of COVID-19 positive cases, like California and Washington. According to the CDC, senior citizens who have multiple health conditions are at a higher risk of complications. Nursing homes are very prone to the rapid spread of the virus because of large gatherings for this vulnerable part of the population.
Already there have been many reports of large numbers of cases of COVID-10 spreading rapidly in nursing homes including Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington. This is particularly more dangerous because the spread of the coronavirus in a nursing home can amplify further spread to other facilities when patients are transferred or when the visitors and staff members come and go.
According to CDC, visitors and healthcare staff that are ill are more likely to be the source of introducing COVID-19 into the nursing home. This fact has necessitated the change in guidance to restrict personnel and visitors.
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New Rules for Family Communication with Nursing Home Residents in Connecticut
Since visitors are barred from meeting nursing home residents in person, it was only logical to have an alternate solution to ensure families stay connected to their loved ones in nursing homes. According to the order by Governor Ned Lamont, every facility has to regularly facilitate reasonable and practical alternative means of communication between family/other individuals and residents as designated by the resident or his legal representative as they will be denied entry to the facility due to visitation restrictions.
The order also mentioned the means of communication which include window visits, virtual visitation via technological solutions like Zoom, Face Time, Microsoft Teams, etc., social media communications, and phone calls. These have to take place at least once in a week. Another part of the order says: