FAQs on Nursing Home Visitation Issued

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

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:

  1. What steps should nursing homes take before reopening to visitors?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. Can nursing home residents participate in communal activities before reaching phase 3 of the nursing home reopening plan?
  5. What factors should nursing homes consider when making decisions about visitation?
  6. Should residents or visitors who have tested positive for COVID-19 participate in visits?
  7. 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.”