Panel Recommends Ending Ban on Nursing Home Visitation
A task force has recommended that Governor DeSantis allow the ban on visitation at Florida’s long-term care facilities to expire this September. The Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long Term Care Facilities issued its recommendations last week, though it is up to the Governor to ultimately approve the reopening.
Nursing homes have emerged as a key site for transmission of the novel coronavirus, with many vulnerable seniors succumbing to the disease. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the panel issued the following recommendations to make the reopening go as safely as possible.
General Visitors Not Required
The panel recommends that nursing homes allow “essential” and “compassionate” caregivers to visit:
- Essential caregivers are those who help residents with bathing, eating, and dressing
- Compassionate caregivers are those who offer comfort to residents dealing with a hardship
However, the panel has left it up to the nursing home to decide whether to allow general visitors into the home.
Florida has not required that all citizens wear masks. However, the panel recommends that masking be mandatory in nursing homes. Essential personnel who help seniors with bathing and grooming would be required to wear personal protective equipment, and any members of the general public who visit would not be able to enter the facility without a mask.
Testing at the Doors
Nursing homes will also need to follow current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regarding testing at the door of the facilities. Rapid point-of-care tests allow staff to see who has the virus. Other tests can measure a person’s temperature, which is helpful since a fever is a key symptom.
This recommendation does not mean that testing is required for every visitor. It will be required only if the CDC and the FDA require it for certain people. Currently, testing is recommended for people who show symptoms but not for others.
Touching Allowed for Essential Caregivers
The novel coronavirus can be transmitted via touch, which means that current residents have not been hugged or touched in months, unless necessary. However, the task force has recommended that essential caregivers be allowed to hug and touch, which are necessary forms of emotional support that can counter depression. The panel did not approve touching for other visitors.
Will Your Loved One Remain Safe?
The coronavirus is particularly hard on the elderly and those with serious underlying medical conditions. People typically enter nursing homes because of physical illness or injury, so the population is vulnerable to complications if they contract the virus.
If you have a loved one in a facility, contact management to discuss their reopening plans. You want to know what to expect before you show up at the facility. Ultimately, it is up to the home to protect its residents.
If you have a legal question involving an elderly loved one, contact Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group, 800-743-9732. Our estate planning attorneys in The Villages have helped with a variety of legal issues, including guardianship, estate planning, and litigation.