CMS revises nursing home visitation guidelines

March 11, 2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said that nursing homes could expand visitation options now that more than 3 million doses of vaccines have been administered at those facilities, according to a news release from the agency.

The new recommendations, which were outlined in an updated guidance document, said that nursing homes “should allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident or visitor.”

However, visitation should still be limited under the following circumstances:

          Among unvaccinated residents if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated.

          Among residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions.

          Among residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

The updated guidance also emphasizes that “compassionate care” visits should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate, or an outbreak. Compassionate care visits include visits for a resident whose health has sharply declined or is experiencing a significant change in circumstances.

CMS said it continues to recommend facilities, residents, and families adhere to the core principles of COVID-19 infection control, including maintaining physical distancing and conducting visits outdoors whenever possible.

“CMS recognizes the psychological, emotional, and physical toll that prolonged isolation and separation from family have taken on nursing home residents and their families,” said Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality.

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