On January 6, 2022, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) released on December 23rd, 2021, which clarify their updated Nursing Home Visitation Guidance from November.
The updated FAQs continue to emphasize that visitation must be permitted at all times and state that visitation is critical for residents, acknowledging that past limits on visitation led to physical and psychosocial decline.
Key updates are below:
• While visitation should still occur, states may instruct facilities to take additional measures to make visitations safer, including wearing well-fitting masks, such as surgical or KN95s. States should work directly with CMS on measures they are considering.
• When outbreaks occur, facilities should continue consulting with state and local health departments to determine when modifications to visitation policies are appropriate. All discussions with the health department should be documented as should all measures facilities have taken to attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.
• Facilities should continue permitting visitation as cases spike due to the Omicron variant.
The guidance states that visitation must still be permitted despite rising cases and emphasizes residents’ federal right to make choices about their lives in a facility and their right to visitation (42 CFR 483.10(f)(2) and (4)).
Vaccination is strongly encouraged though not required and extra precautions for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission are suggested including: providing dedicated indoor space for visitation, visiting when a roommate is not available, outdoor visitation, offering visitors surgical or K95 masks, restricting movement in the facility to the visitation location, increasing air flow and ventilation, cleaning and sanitizing after visits, not conducting visits in common areas, and posting reminders about COVID-19 infection prevention practices in common areas.
Consumer Voice strongly encourages all family members to follow all infection prevention protocols that facilities require while visiting, including: proper masking, hand washing, social distancing, and rescheduling visits if you have symptoms of, or test positive for, COVID-19. Additionally, we strongly advise all visitors to get vaccinated before visiting and to test if possible before entering a facility.