The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released new visitation guidance for long-term care facilities to address social isolation. Residents in Minnesota’s long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, are highly vulnerable to COVID-19. The new guidelines are consistent with new federal guidance in nursing homes, which eases the restrictions on in-person visitations for residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The new guidance allows in-person visits in facilities that have not had a new COVID-19 infection in the preceding two weeks and the infection rate in the surrounding county is no more than 10%. The Department can also issue citations to facilities that don't have a valid reason for keeping their doors closed.
Watch KARE 11 interview with the MN Department of Health describing these new guidelines.
Since March, visitor restrictions have been in place in long-term care settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The guidelines state that balancing COVID-19 safety and visitation restrictions with the well-being of residents in long-term care and other residential settings is an urgent priority for Minnesota. Social isolation as a result of COVID-19 visitor restrictions is a significant concern and an issue that requires close cooperation between facilities, visitors, and local and state public health to address safely and successfully.
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 there is an outbreak of the coronavirus in the facility.
Last year AARP fought hard and won far-reaching legislation designed to protect Minnesotans from elder abuse. One of the law’s key new provisions provides residents and their caregivers the right to place a camera in their room in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This can also be a way to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AARP has advocated for more transparency around coronavirus cases and deaths in nursing homes, for more testing and PPE in the facilities, for more support for resident discharge rights, virtual visits between residents and loved ones or representatives, and against proposals to grant legal immunity related to COVID-19 for nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities.
Minnesota has known for months that nursing homes and assisted living facilities are a hotbed for the coronavirus infection, accounting for an alarming 78% of all COVID-19 related deaths. This is unacceptable. More must be done to improve conditions in long-term care facilities. Tell your lawmakers to take immediate action to protect long-term care residents, workers, and their loved ones.
The list below provides tips and resources for Minnesotans seeking connection with loved ones in long-term care facilities.
- If you are concerned about the safety and well-being of a spouse, parent, or other loved one who lives in a nursing home, contact:
- Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC) at 1-844-880-1574.
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 1-800-657-3591 (TDD/TTY, please call 711).
- Minnesota Department of Health provides guidance and information on visitation and how to connect your loved ones safely.
- Six questions you need to ask if your loved one is in nursing care: If you have a spouse, sibling, parent, or other loved one in a nursing home, you may be worried about their safety and well-being because of the coronavirus pandemic. Learn some key questions to ask the nursing home.
- Minnesota Caregiver Resource Guide is a starting point to find services and supports in Minnesota and can help throughout your caregiving journey.
- AARP Family Caregiving Site provides access to information and resources on caregiver life balance, financial and legal issues, care at home, health, Prepare to Care Guide, and more.
- Community Resource Finder is an online tool to easily access a comprehensive listing of dementia and aging-related resources such as care providers, programs and services available in a specified area.
- Quick Tips for Caregivers: Check out how to use simple household items to solve everyday challenges.
- Share your Story: Join the thousands of family caregivers have shared their experiences through AARP’s storytelling initiative, I Heart Caregivers. Your story will help AARP continue to fight for more support for family caregivers, including help at home, workplace flexibility, training, and relief in your state.