Massachusetts Nursing Homes Can Now Allow Family Visits


As readers of this blog and family members who have loved ones in nursing homes and long term care facilities know all too well, for nearly the past six months, family members have been unable to visit their loved ones, due to Covid-19 restrictions.  This has caused heartache and anxiety that people who have been spared the pain of placing a loved one in a nursing facility, can never fully understand.  Try to imagine that your mother or father, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or someone close to you, is literally locked in a nursing home or long term care facility for months — places that are too often notorious for poor patient care – and you aren’t allowed inside to visit your loved one and verify his or her condition or care.

Such has been the plight of families with loved ones in Massachusetts nursing homes, “skilled nursing facilities”, long term care facilities, and rehabilitation hospitals.  Aside from family members, just try to imagine the fear and despondency of patients and residents themselves, many of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or cognitive decline.   As a Massachusetts nursing home neglect lawyer, I’ve seen these awful situations far too often, even under “normal” circumstances.   The past six months with Covid-19 has been intolerable, for everyone involved.

Gladly, the federal agency that oversees such regulations for nursing facilities and rehabilitation hospitals, the  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), just released a directive substantially reducing those restrictions.
The CMS’ new advisory, which is now effective and which nursing facilities must follow, permits both outdoor visitation as well as indoor visitation.  The guidance also allows for what it calls “compassionate care visits” and describes a framework for those visits. You can find the details of this CMS advisory by clicking here.

Positive, patient and family-centered changes like this don’t come ‘out of the blue’.  They are the product of hard work done in Washington and in state capitals around the U.S., by patient and elder advocacy organizations.  These organizations devote themselves to assuring that patients in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, “memory care centers” (otherwise known as Alzheimer’s facilities) and rehabilitation centers, receive the highest quality of care possible.  One of the leading organizations doing this work is the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (“Consumer Voice”, for short) – a national organization dedicated to, borrowing from their mission Statement, “Putting a Top to Poor Care.”  Consumer Voice, working with other long-term care advocates, has been untiring in its efforts to encourage CMS to remove limitations on family visits, emphasizing the obviously crushing, even traumatic effect that being separated from loved ones has had on patients in nursing homes and long term care facilities.  This important organization relies in substantial part on charitable support to do its admirable work, and if you’re inclined, any donation or financial support for that organization is always appreciated.

The new CMS advisory, which is effective immediately, permits outdoor visitation, indoor visitation, and compassionate care visits, and provides a framework for those visits.  These directives replace all previous advisories.

If you have a loved one in a Massachusetts nursing home, Massachusetts assisted living facility or Massachusetts long term care facility, and have any questions concerning your loved one’s care, feel free to call us at Ph. (781) 320-0062 or send us a Contact form.  We’d be glad to speak with you, without charge.