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SANDWICH GENERATION: in-person visitation restrictions ease at MN long term care facilities

The Minnesota Department of Health released new visitation guidance to help combat senior isolation at nursing homes and assisted living centers due to the pandemic.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — To help address the serious public health crisis of social isolation of residents in long-term care, the Minnesota of Department of Health (MDH) issued visitation guidance on Monday October 12, 2020. The move, consistent with new federal guidance in nursing homes, eases the restrictions on in-person visitations for residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities amid COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many seniors in care facilities have had little interaction with their family members aside from outdoor visits and visits by essential family caregivers. The new guidance allows in-person visits in facilities that have not had a new COVID-19 infections in the preceding two weeks and the infection rate in the surrounding county is no more than 10%. Previous guidance required that facilities be free of infection for 28 days.

Experts say social interaction with family and friends is critical to the overall health and well-being of residents in long term care facilities. AARP Minnesota has been hearing from families about their heartbreaking stories of separation from their loved ones and has created a webpage dedicated to resources and visitation guidelines for Long-Term Care Facilities.

The new guidance is designed to balance the need for safety and to reduce the risk of transmission with the resident’s need for social interaction and the right to visitation, a right embedded in both state and federal laws. The department of health can issue citations to facilities that don’t have a valid reason for keeping their doors closed. 

Minnesota also has issued guidance on two other types of visits: essential caregiver and compassionate care visitations. While essential caregiver visits allow facilities the option to offer them, compassionate care visits are mandatory and can be for visits beyond just end-of- life care and even when is an outbreak of the coronavirus in the facility.

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age and his helping to get. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment.