Updated: May 12, 2021
The New Jersey Department of Health has issued another supplement to the mandatory guidelines for visitation in long-term care residences. The supplemental guidance was released on May 12 and is included as an update to the following document: Visitation in Long-Term Care Facilities Summary of Current Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions.
Updated: March 29, 2021
The New Jersey Department of Health has released updated mandatory guidelines for visitation in long-term care residences. New Jersey’s new guidelines follow the federal guidelines that were released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on March 10. New Jersey’s new guidelines take effect immediately and apply to all residential healthcare facilities including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, comprehensive personal care homes, residential care homes and dementia care homes.
Alzheimer’s New Jersey appreciates the work of the Governor and the New Jersey Department of Health in taking this important first step to make significant and vitally needed change for thousands of New Jersey families with loved ones in our long-term care residences. In addition, we want to recognize the many advocates, including members of FACE for Seniors, who sent letters and emails, made phone calls and raised awareness through public events to bring attention to the physical and emotional health consequences caused by the isolation of their loved ones.
While long awaited family reunions may now seem possible, we urge the Department of Health and healthcare administrators to work together with families to turn the promise of these new guidelines into positive action that enables in-door family visits to take place and recognizes that families are essential to quality care in our long-term care facilities, especially for those residents with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
First Published: March 11, 2021
Alzheimer’s New Jersey would like to acknowledge and thank the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for issuing new visitation guidelines for expanding indoor visitation in nursing homes that recognizes that physical separation from family and other loved ones has taken a physical and emotional toll on residents and their families.
According to Ken Zaentz, President and CEO of Alzheimer’s New Jersey, “these new guidelines are a significant change to the current New Jersey Department of Health Executive Directive NO. 20-0261 that includes visitation requirements in residential care facilities and we urge the New Jersey DOH to quickly update its guidelines and implement the CMS recommendations. Families, especially those who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, have waited far too long to resume their essential caregiver roles as part of the team providing quality care in our long-term care facilities.”
The new CMS recommendations were published on March 10, 2021 and take effect immediately.
In short, CMS recommends that facilities allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless certain scenarios arise that would limit visitation for (a) unvaccinated residents only based on the COVID-19 county positivity rate and the percent of residents that are fully vaccinated, (b) residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions or (c) residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.
The updated guidelines also state that while outbreaks do increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission, a facility should not restrict visitation for all residents as long as there is evidence that the transmission of COVID-19 is contained to a single area of the facility.
In addition, Compassionate Care visitation should always be allowed for any resident, vaccinated or unvaccinated regardless of a facilities current outbreak status. While visitor testing and vaccination can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors should not be required to be tested or vaccinated or show proof of either as a condition of visitation.
Alzheimer’s New Jersey, supports CMS in acknowledging that “there is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one.”
Here is a link to the full CMS Fact Sheet on the new guidelines.