The spread of the coronavirus to nursing home residents has caused the federal government to direct nursing homes to restrict visitor access, and many assisted living facilities have done the same. While the move helps the residents stay healthy, it can also lead to social isolation and depression. Families are having to find new ways to stay in touch.
Nursing homes across the nation (including, sadly, right here in Central Virginia) have been hit hard by the coronavirus. In response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to all nursing homes, restricting all visitors, except for compassionate care in end-of-life situations; restricting all volunteers and nonessential personnel; and cancelling all group activities and communal dining. While these actions are necessary to prevent the further spread of the virus, they can leave families worried and upset and residents feeling isolated and confused.
Families are using various tactics to keep in contact with their loved ones, many of whom don’t fully understand why their family is no longer visiting. Nursing homes are also helping to facilitate contact. Some options for keeping in touch include the following:
- Phone calls. Phone calls are still an option to be able to talk to your loved one.
- Window visits. Families who are able to visit their loved one’s window can use that to have in-person visits. You can hold up signs and blow kisses. Talking on a cell phone or typing messages on it and holding them up to the window may be a way to have a conversation.
- Facetime and Skype. Many nursing homes are facilitating video calls with families using platforms like Facetime or Skype. Some nursing homes have purchased additional iPads, while others have staff members going between rooms with a dedicated iPad to help residents make calls.
- Cards and letters. Sending cards and letters to your loved ones is another way to show them that you are thinking of them. Some nursing homes have also set up Facebook pages, where people can send messages to residents.
In this unprecedented time, families will need to get creative to stay in touch with their loved ones. For more articles about how families and nursing homes around the country are coping with the new restrictions, see these resources from the Springfield News Sun and USA Today.
*This article is provided for persons interested in elder law issues in Virginia and across the United States. This article has been written by a practitioner in the field of elder law, but unless otherwise noted, the writer is not affiliated with ThompsonMcMullan, P.C. Nothing in the newsletter or the articles is, or is intended to be, legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice of any kind, please consult an attorney with experience in that area of the law, whether in our firm, or otherwise.