Resident Rights - Visitation
Contributed by Rhonda Allenson, Alliant Quality BFAC member
Residents residing in a Medicare and/or Medicaid-certified nursing home have certain rights and protections under federal and state law. These rights and protections help make sure residents get the care and services they need, and specify that residents have the right to dignity and self-determination.
One essential resident right is visitation: the right of access to visitors of his/her choosing at any time, specifically:
- Personal physician, representatives, state survey agency and ombudsman
- Relatives, friends, and others
- Organizations or individuals providing health, social, legal, or other services
- Right to refuse visitors
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the vulnerable nature of the nursing home population, strict visitor restriction policies were implemented by federal, state and local leaders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These policies significantly reduced or eliminated the resident’s right to access visitors which impacted their quality of life. The lack of visitation continues to have devastating effects upon residents’ psychological and physical well-being such as feelings of isolation, loneliness, hopelessness, depression and clinical deterioration. Additionally, these policies have negatively affected friends, families, and loved ones who are unable to spend quality time with their loved ones and advocate on their behalf.
Now that we have passed the one-year anniversary of imposed visitor restrictions, community COVID-19 positivity rates are decreasing and COVID-19 immunization vaccines are being administered nationally, it is time to implement safe visitation policies that promote resident rights and their quality of life.
For more information regarding resident rights, visit: https://theconsumervoice.org/issues/recipients/nursing-home-residents/residents-rights
Contact your local or state ombudsman for information and assistance regarding resident rights:
- Alabama: https://alabamaageline.gov/ombudsman/
- Florida: http://ombudsman.myflorida.com/
- Georgia: https://www.georgiaombudsman.org
- Kentucky: https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/os/omb/Pages/default.aspx
- Louisiana: http://goea.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=107&pnid=2&nid=15
- North Carolina: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/adult-services/long-term-care-ombudsman
- Tennessee: https://www.tn.gov/aging/our-programs/long-term-care-ombudsman.html
For recent guidance from CMS on Nursing Home visitation, please see this press release: https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/nursing-home-visitation-covid-19-revised
For the CMS overview of rights and protections for nursing home residents, see: https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers/rights-protections-in-a-nursing-home & https://downloads.cms.gov/medicare/Your_Resident_Rights_and_Protections_section.pdf