Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidelines for nursing home visits, including a roadmap for resuming indoor visits depending on community spread of COVID-19. The new recommendations call attention to the importance of residents’ psychosocial needs, which can be vastly improved by visits from family and friends.
The new guidelines include a set of core principles to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although outdoor visits are still the ideal option whenever possible, nursing home operators must oversee all indoor visits based on the following principles:
- Screening for COVID-19 symptoms and denial of entry to those showing symptoms
- Proper hand hygiene
- Facial coverings over mouth and nose
- Social distancing of at least six feet between individuals
- Detailed instructional signs throughout the facility
- Cleaning frequently touched surfaces and designated visitation areas
- Appropriate usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by staff
- Isolated areas dedicated to COVID-19 care
- Continuation of required testing for residents and staff
In addition to obeying these core principles, nursing home operators should accommodate and support indoor visits only if the facility has had no new COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days. Operators should also limit the total number of visitors and keep them in designated visitation areas. These visits will also depend on the COVID-19 infection rate in each community. CMS recommends indoor visits only be allowed in areas with positivity rates of 10% or lower.
To help facilities provide safe visitation areas, CMS announced an expansion of the civil monetary penalty (CMP) reinvestment program. Now, nursing home operators can get up to $3,000 for tents and clear dividers as well as $3,000 for communication devices for virtual visits.
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