After six months of strict visitation restrictions in nursing homes, on September 17th, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a memo significantly easing those restrictions. The new guidance, which is effective immediately, permits outdoor visitation, indoor visitation, and compassionate care visits and lays out a framework for those visits. CMS notes that this guidance replaces all previous guidance. Highlights of the September 17 memo include:
General Guidance About Visits
- Visitation should be person-centered, consider the resident’s physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being, and support their quality of life.
- Facilities should ensure visits are conducted with privacy.
- Certain core principles apply to all types of visits. Among others, these include screening, hand hygiene, face covering or mask, and social distancing.
- Visits to nursing homes should be outdoors whenever practicable. Facilities should facilitate outdoor visits routinely except under certain circumstances.
- Facilities should create accessible and safe outdoor spaces and a process to limit the number of visits and people visiting any one resident.
• Facilities should support indoor visitation adhering to the following guidelines:
o No new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days; facility not conducting outbreak testing.
o Only compassionate care visits if the county positivity rate is greater than 10%.
o Visitors must follow the core principles.
o Facilities should limit number of visitors per resident at one time; total number of visitors in the facility at one time; and movement in the facility.
You can read the full CMS memo at https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-39-nh.pdf.