Long Term Care Facilities Holiday Visitation Guidance

By: Janet A. McSharar

The Indiana Department of Health just issued guidance to Indiana’s long-term care facilities on visitation with long-term care facility residents over the upcoming holiday season. This holiday visitation guidance applies to both nursing facilities and licensed residential care facilities and is intended to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 in Indiana’s long-term care facilities.

The Centers for Disease Control has warned that small gatherings have recently caused an increase of COVID-19 cases. Thus, the Indiana Department of Health recommends strongly against nursing facility residents’ families taking the residents to their homes or to holiday gatherings. That recommendation, however, does not apply to nursing home and residential care facility residents who have been diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days if the recovered resident meets the CDC’s criteria for the Discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions.

Rather than home visits and holiday gatherings, the Indiana Department of Health recommends visits occur in the long-term care facility. Facility visits can be outdoors if the facility can accommodate outdoor visitation or the visitation can occur indoors but only if indoor visitations at the particular facility are permissible under the Indiana Department of Health’s indoor visitation.

If long-term care residents visit their families in the families’ home or attend a holiday gathering, the Indiana Department of Health recommends families:

  1. Decrease exposures for two weeks before the visit or gathering by avoiding indoor settings with those with whom you do not live or where you cannot wear a mask or be socially distant.
  2. Wear a mask during all holiday gatherings and when traveling in the car with the long-term care resident and loved ones.
  3. Wash hands frequently and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly.
  4. Arrange your home to allow for social distancing.
  5. Screen everyone entering your home for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This should include temperature checks before entering.
  6. Crack windows and use HEPA filters or humidifiers to decrease indoor spread of COVID-19 by increasing air flow.

Residents who attended holiday gatherings or went to their family’s home during the holidays will be required to quarantine in isolation for 14 days upon returning to the nursing facility. If the long-term care facility cannot accommodate quarantining the returning resident in isolation, the resident may have to delay his or her return to the long-term care facility until the facility can accommodate the returning resident’s need to quarantine for 14 days.