WHAT CAN I DO IF MY LOVED ONE IS IN A NURSING HOME OR GROUP HOME?
As of June 17, 2020, group homes may allow visitation at their discretion. Group homes allowing such visitation must require visitors to wear PPE during their visit, and must require visitors to be subject to temperature screenings. Group homes may place limits on the number of visitors in the facility. Contact the specific group home in question to inquire about its visitation policy.
Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. NYS has allowed nursing homes and adult care facilities to resume limited visitation of residents by their family and friends. For more information, please visit CELJ’s in-depth article on nursing home visitation, located at https://elderjusticeny.org/covid-19-updates-visits-to-nursing-homes-and-adult-care-facilities/.
Nursing home inspections by Ombudsmen and the Department of Health have also been given permission to resume with certain restrictions. Even with the restrictions that apply to in-person inspections, there are still many things that the Ombudsmen can do to ensure that your loved one is receiving adequate care. You can find contact information for the Ombudsman that serves your county here: https://aging.ny.gov/locationsearch/ombudsmen.
In all nursing homes across NYS, the facility is required to test staff members once per week for COVID. Staff members who refuse testing will not be allowed to work. Nursing homes can face financial penalties or have their license to operate revoked if they do not comply with this policy.
If family members or residents have concerns about the level of care a resident is receiving, they should file complaints with the Department of Health at 1-888-201-4563. If there is a concern about abuse or neglect, please contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit at (800) 771-7755 or online at https://ag.ny.gov/medicaid-fraud/contact.
Nursing homes are being directed to readmit residents returning from hospitals as quickly as possible, and hospitals are proceeding with expedited discharges when the resident is medically stable. However, a hospital must perform a COVID test on the patient and get a negative result before that patient is discharged to a nursing home. Hospital discharge planners must confirm with the nursing home that the resident is medically stable and able to return, and that the nursing home can adequately care for the patient. They also must provide the nursing home with comprehensive discharge instructions. Nursing homes are not permitted to refuse readmission to a resident solely because of a prior COVID-19 diagnosis. Residents or resident advocates who are concerned about discharge from a hospital to a nursing home for any reason (whether the discharge is happening before a patient is stable, or whether a patient is being refused readmission for inappropriate reasons) should file complaints with the Department of Health at 1-888-201-4563.
If a family decides to take a loved one out of a nursing home to stay with the family during the COVID pandemic, the nursing home may charge a “bed hold” fee to hold the resident’s place in the nursing home until they return. Although this fee is no longer mandated by Medicaid, individual facilities may charge it at their discretion. Residents and families who are interested in the resident leaving the nursing home during the COVID pandemic should discuss this with the resident’s primary physician and the facility discharge planning team. Specifically, residents and families should consider whether the resident is capable of living with a family member instead of in the facility, and whether the family members are capable of providing a safe level of care, in addition to whether the facility will charge a “bed hold” fee.