It has been almost a year since the initial ban on in-person visitation in nursing homes and adult care facilities, and visitation is still extremely restrictive. Residents have been negatively impacted by these restrictions, living in forced isolation and experiencing cognitive and mental decline. Virtual visitation has not been an adequate substitution to combat the issues residents are facing. Family members, close friends, and guardians need to be allowed in long-term care facilities. It is essential to the wellbeing of the residents.

New York State Senator Rachel May reintroduced her bill S614A (May) that if passed, would provide authorization and regulation of visitation of personal care visitors and compassionate care visitors at nursing homes and adult care facilities. CELJ wrote a memorandum of support supporting the passage of this bill. Specifically, the bill would add new section 2801-h to the public health law and section 461-u to the social services law:

Section 2801-h would require Department of Health (DOH) to develop rules, regulations, and guidelines to allow personal caregiving and compassionate caregiving visitors at nursing homes, designating two caregivers per resident. Section 461-u would require the office of temporary and disability assistance to develop rules, regulations, and guidelines to allow personal caregiving and compassionate caregiving visitors at adult care facilities, designating two caregivers per resident as well. Personal caregiving will allow for the care and support of a resident by a family member to benefit a residents’ medical, physical, or social wellbeing.

In addition, this bill expands the definition of “compassionate care visitation” set out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). DOH currently narrowly defines “compassionate care visitation” for end-of-life or hospice situations only. This bill expands the definition to allow not just for end-of-life or hospice situations, but situations where there is a decline in a resident’s physical, mental or emotional wellbeing; which is what many residents are currently exhibiting.

Call to action: use your voice to help inspire change!

We urge you to e-mail, call, or write your State Senator, and Assembly member to share your story, and voice your support for visitation (with reasonable safety measures) to resume in nursing homes and adult care facilities in a safe manner. It’s time to be reconnected with your loved ones again.

To find your State Senator: https://www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator

To find your State Assembly Member:  https://nyassembly.gov/mem/search/

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