Citing high COVID-19 vaccination rates for residents and staff and proclaiming that “continued restrictions on this vital resident’s right [visitation] are no longer necessary,” the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has restored the right of residents to visitors of their choosing whenever they want. The new CMS guidance prohibits facilities from:
– limiting the frequency of a residents’ visits, – limiting the duration of a residents’ visits, – limiting the number of a residents’ visitors, – confining visits to particular hours of the day, or – requiring advance scheduling of visits.Additionally, the guidance clarifies that visitors must be allowed during any COVID-19 outbreak or outbreak investigation.
While the guidance maintains recommendations regarding infection prevention during visitation, the bottom line is each “resident must be allowed to receive visitors as he/she chooses.”
Vaccination Rates for Nursing Home Staff and Residents Now Available on Care Compare
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in a September 21, 2021 press release that it has added a new feature to its Care Compare website to make it easier to check COVID-19 vaccination rates for nursing home staff and residents. The information is intended to help people make informed decisions when choosing a nursing home. To access the vaccination rate data, search a nursing home’s zip code or city on Care Compare, click on the name of the nursing home, then scroll down to click “View COVID-19 Vaccination Rates” to see the data. The information is intended to help people make informed decisions when choosing a nursing home.
CMS is updating the data weekly. Medicare and Medi-Cal certified nursing homes have been required to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination data for both residents and staff since May, and CMS has been posting the information on the CMS COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website. The new vaccination rate tool on Care Compare is in addition to the data being posted on the COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.
Long Term Care Facility Visitation Lockouts Due to COVID Outbreaks – Are They Legal?
Despite the ongoing pandemic, in-person visitation is mandatory in California long term care facilities. However, a number of facilities are shutting down all in-person visitation indefinitely when a staff member or resident tests positive for COVID-19. Generally, these visitation lockouts are illegal.
The only time a facility may temporarily shut down in-person visitation is when a local public health authority has directed that visitation be stopped or in nursing homes under very specific circumstances outlined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The current visitation rules in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are summarized here.These rules apply, regardless of COVID outbreaks in a facility.
If you or your loved one’s facility is locking out visitors due to an outbreak, or for any other reason, ask the facility management what rules they are following that permit the lockout and provide the facility with CANHR’s visitation summary. If the facility persists in an unauthorized lockout, file a complaint with the state Department of Public Health and explain that the visitation lockout is an “immediate jeopardy” violation. If CDPH is not able to restore visitation at the facility within 72 hours of your complaint, contact CANHR and let us know.
CANHR Zoom Town Halls
The Current State of Visitation Rights in Long Term Care Facilities
Long term care residents were locked down and closed off from visitation in March 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, state regulators have relaxed the lockdown but continue to permit various levels of visitation restrictions that have frustrated residents and their loved ones. The goal of this town hall is to inform participants and viewers of the current state of the visitation rules, explain how advocacy can be used to gain more visitation access, and answer key visitation questions.
The town hall speakers are CANHR staff attorneys Tony Chicotel and Mike Dark and Essential Caregivers Coalition co-founders Maitely Weismann and Melody Taylor Stark.
By Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, November 5 2021 Helena Apothaker holds a photograph of her and her mother, Catherine, in West Hollywood. Apothaker is suing Silverado Senior Living after her Catherine died of COVID-19 at a care facility near the Fairfax District. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times) Helena Apothaker was raw with grief for her mother, who had died of COVID-19 as the virus swept through a care facility in Beverly Grove, when she heard the news that infuriated her: The facility had admitted a new resident amid the pandemic.