Nursing Home Visitation – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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

CMS is providing clarification to recent guidance for visitation (see CMS memorandum QSO-20-39-NH REVISED 11/12/2021). While CMS cannot address every aspect of visitation that may occur, we provide additional details about certain scenarios below. However, the bottom line is visitation must be permitted at all times with very limited and rare exceptions, in accordance with residents’ rights. In short, nursing homes should enable visitation following these three key points:

• Adhere to the core principles of infection prevention, especially wearing a mask, performing hand hygiene, and practicing physical distancing;

• Don’t have large gatherings where physical distancing cannot be maintained; and

• Work with your state or local health department when an outbreak occurs.

This clarification was posted on Thursday, December 23, 2021, and came in the form of a 4-page FAQ document.  These questions were answered by CMS in the document:

  1. What is the best way for residents, visitors, and staff to protect themselves from the Omicron variant?
  2. How should nursing homes address visitation when they expect a high volume of visitors, such as over the holidays?  
  3. Can residents have close contact with their visitor(s) during a visit and visit without a mask?
  4. Can visits occur in a resident’s room if they have a roommate?
  5. Can a visitor share a meal with or feed the resident they are visiting?
  6. How should nursing homes work with their state or local health department when there is an COVID-19 outbreak?    
  7. Should the facility pause communal activities and dining during an outbreak investigation?
  8. Is a resident (not on transmission-based precautions or quarantine) who is unable or unwilling to wear a mask allowed to attend communal dining and activities?