CMS Updated Nursing Home Visitation Guidelines

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on June 26, 2020 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Updated on April 25, 2024

elderly male nursing home residentThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) imposed visitation restrictions to nursing homes across the country beginning March 2020. These visitation bans have been ongoing to help curb the spread of COVID-19, causing stress for many family members concerned about the welfare of loved ones.

PKSD Law shares some updates to those restrictions CMS provided this past Wednesday, and what this means for you.

If you are concerned that your loved one may have been neglected or received substandard care while quarantined at his or her nursing home, we are prepared to help. Our knowledgeable lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your concerns and whether you may have grounds for a nursing home neglect case.

Contact us anytime, day or night, to speak with a representative and schedule your free, no-obligation claim review. We charge nothing up front or while we represent you. We only get paid if you do.

COVID-19 CMS Visitation Ban Recap

The visitation ban issued by CMS back in March 2020 prohibited all non-essential visits to nursing home residents. This ban applied to all visitors, even family members, except when there were extenuating circumstances, such as an end-of-life situation.

All visitors were to be screened by the facility for fever, coughing, shortness of breath and other symptoms of the virus before entering the facility. If a visitor showed any active symptoms of a respiratory infection, entry was not allowed, even in an end-of-life situation.

Visitors who were allowed entry were required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and stay in a designated room for the duration of the visit.

Plan For Reopening Facilities

Each state has the last say for when they will begin reopening nursing home and long-term care facilities. However, CMS says that universal testing of all residents prior to any potential reopening activity is mandatory.

CMS has issued more specific guidelines for relaxing nursing home visitation restrictions in the coming months. Generally speaking, CMS recommendations include postponing any plans for public access until the state has entered its phase three stage of reopening.

Minimum requirements for the reopening of nursing home and assisted living facilities may include:

  • 28 consecutive days with no new cases
  • Appropriate staffing levels
  • Access to PPE
  • Open capacity at local area referral hospitals

Additional relaxed restrictions may permit the reintroduction of group activities with carefully implemented precautions. For example, as long as facilities continue to adhere to CMS guidelines, such as social distancing and wearing PPE, nursing home residents may be able to participate in activities, such as group movies, book clubs, crafts and other activities.

Compassionate Care Exceptions Are Not Only For End-of-Life

Many initially thought the “compassionate care” exemption to the visitation ban was specifically intended for family to visit loved ones who were terminally ill residents. However, that is apparently not the case. While that is one appropriate use of this exception, there may be other times when family members may be able to bypass the visitation restriction.

Some other examples of when the visitation restriction may be exempted include:

  • If a loved one or family member of the resident had recently passed away
  • If a resident had been living at home with family and was moved to a nursing home just prior to the pandemic

The CMS stresses that, while concerns for the welfare of a loved one are valid, compassionate care exemptions are not designed to be used as a regular occurrence. However, CMS is also keenly aware that every potential valid use of this exemption cannot be documented.

If you feel your loved one’s situation mandates a compassionate care visit, contact your loved one’s facility administrators. CMS encourages facilities to consult with local ombudsmen and leadership and consider each request for a compassionate care visit on a case-by-case basis.

Contact Our Attorneys to Learn How We May Be Able to Help

At PKSD, we have answers to your legal questions, and our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers are prepared to help you protect a loved one who was injured as a nursing home resident due to neglect or abuse.

If you want to discuss your concerns for your loved one’s welfare and believe negligence may be a factor in his or her care, we encourage you to contact our office as soon as possible.

We offer a free consultation, with no obligation to hire our services, and we can review the circumstances of your situation in confidence. If we find you may have a valid case, you can decide whether to engage our services. We charge nothing up front or while we represent you. Our firm does not collect fees unless we first achieve compensation on your behalf.

Call PKSD for legal help with your nursing home claim: 414-333-3333

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