CMS issued a 4-page Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Nursing Home Visitation guidance document on Wednesday afternoon, June 24, 2020 (this document is dated June 23rd). This is a 7-point document that includes responses to these questions:
- What steps should nursing homes take before reopening to visitors?
- The reopening recommendations maintain that visitation should only be allowed for “compassionate care situations.” Do compassionate care situations only refer to end-of-life situations?
- Can facilities use creative means, such as outside visits, to begin to allow for visitation within the CMS and CDC guidelines; even before reaching phase three?
- Can nursing home residents participate in communal activities before reaching phase 3 of the nursing home reopening plan?
- What factors should nursing homes consider when making decisions about visitation?
- Should residents or visitors who have tested positive for COVID-19 participate in visits?
- Are nursing homes required to allow visits from the ombudsman when requested by a resident?
You should share this document with your team to review together. This QSO contains references/hyperlinks to previous memos as well as a link to the CDC website. Keep in mind that CMS is Federal – be mindful and aware of what your local and state guidance says about visitation to nursing homes. Note this statement within the FAQ:
“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. Additionally, state and local officials should consider the following as a part of a comprehensive reopening plan:
- Case status in surrounding community
- Case status in the nursing home(s)
- Staffing levels
- Access to adequate testing for residents and staff
- Personal protective equipment supplies
- Local hospital capacity
These factors should help guide reopening decisions, and decisions related to creative ways to facilitate visitation. For example, a facility with multiple COVID-19 cases should still use caution when deciding to facilitate outdoor visitation. As facilities explore these options, they are still responsible for preventing the transmission of COVID-19.”
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