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Nursing Home Visitation

CMS Issues Updated Guidance on Nursing Home Visitation

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its COVID-19 guidance regarding nursing home visitation.

While seniors in nursing homes continue to be vulnerable to COVID-19, it’s become clear to health authorities that isolation and limited visitation can be traumatic. Isolation can also lead to physical and mental decline, as well as poor health outcomes. It is critical for residents to receive visits from their friends, family and loved ones, albeit in a manner that does not impose on the rights of other residents.

CMS continues to advise facilities to follow best practices for infection prevention such as mask wearing, sanitizing hands, and practicing physical distancing, as well as limiting large gatherings and working with their local health authorities when an outbreak occurs.

New guidance addresses visitor screening and indoor air quality
The updated guidance permits visitation regardless of the visitor’s vaccination status, as long as he or she does not report COVID-19 symptoms or meet the criteria for quarantine. In addition, states can require visitors to be tested prior to entry if the facility is able to provide a rapid antigen test.

The new CMS guidance also gives advice on improving indoor air quality, ventilation and airflow within facilities in order to improve the safety of the visitation experience.

Above all, CMS recognizes the importance of permitting visitation in nursing homes at all times, with rare and very limited exceptions.