Submitted by Bria Lewis, Esq, Staff Attorney
On March 2, 2021 NYS Department of Health (DOH) released an updated guidance for visitation in adult care facilities. This update comes just a week after DOH released an updated guidance for nursing home visitation. This new guidance for adult care facilities supersedes and replaces any previously issued guidance from DOH regarding visitation. These new guidelines began on March 3, 2021.
The 14 day COVID-19 free requirement remains the same from the previous visitation guidance. This means in order for a facility to conduct in-person visitation there must be no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and the facility must not currently be conducting outbreak testing. With more residents and staff vaccinated against COVID-19, this requirement should be easier for facilities to meet.
When a facility meets the COVID-19 free requirement, in-person visitation can occur. Visitation can be conducted in resident rooms, dedicated visitation spaces and outdoors weather permitting. Additionally, facilities should accommodate and support indoor visitation, including visits for beyond compassionate care situations, when the COVID-19 countywide positivity is less than 10%. The facility is required to limit the number of visitors per resident at any one time and limit the total number of visitors inside the facility at one time, based on the size of the building and physical space. Unlike nursing homes, there is no testing requirement for adult care facility visitors. See Update from NYS Department of Health: Expanded Visitation Guidelines for Nursing Homes
The major update to the visitation guidelines is the expansion of compassionate care visitation. The guidelines for compassionate care visits follow the federal guidelines released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in September 2020. Compassionate care situation are now expanded to go beyond end of life and hospice situations, these situations include:
- Newly admitted residents with difficulty adjusting to the facility environment and lack of in-person family support.
- Residents recently grieving the loss of a friend or loved one.
- Residents who previously received in-person support and/or cueing from family for eating and drinking and are now experiencing dehydration and/or weight loss.
- Residents who are experiencing signs and symptoms of emotional distress.
- Residents who receive religious or spiritual support from clergy or another lay person.
The situations listed above are not exhaustive and additional situations can be considered by the facility on a resident-specific basis.
Legislation Update: The Assembly voted on and passed Senator May’s visitation bill S614B yesterday. This bill provides authorization and regulation of visitation of personal care visitors and compassionate care visitors at nursing homes and adult care facilities. The next step is for the bill to be sent to the Governor for signature. The bill would go into effect 45 days after being signed. See Call to Action: Safe Visitation for Nursing Homes & Adult Care Facilities for additional details on the bill.
The Center for Elder Law & Justice is available to help. If you are a resident or family member of a resident in a long-term care facility, and have questions or concerns about visitation or communications, please call our office for potential legal representation. Call us at (716) 853-3087.