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AARP AARP States New Jersey

Is Your Loved One in a Nursing Home? 6 Questions You Need to Ask.

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AARP is providing information and resources about COVID-19 to help older New Jerseyans, and their families protect themselves from the virus and prevent it from spreading to others.

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. Here are some key questions to ask the nursing home:

1. Has anyone in the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19?

  • This includes residents as well as staff or other vendors who may have been in the nursing home.

2. What is the nursing home doing to prevent infections

  • How are nursing home staff being screened for COVID-19, especially when they leave and re-enter the home?
  • What precautions are in place for residents who are not in private rooms?
  • Has the nursing facility created a separate unit for the care of people with COVID-19?
  • Does that unit have separate staff who will work exclusively with COVID-19 affected residents?

3. Does nursing home staff have the personal protective equipment (PPE)—like masks, face shields, gowns, gloves—that they need to stay safe, and keep their patients safe?

  • Have nursing home staff been given specific training on how to use this personal protective equipment?
  • If no, what is the plan to obtain personal protective equipment?

4. What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with their families or other loved ones during this time?

  • Does the nursing home help residents call their loved ones by phone or video call?
  • Will the nursing home set up a regular schedule for you to speak with your loved one?
  • Is the nursing home providing portable phones to residents who are restricted to their rooms so that residents can call family members or government agencies themselves?

5. What is the plan for the nursing home to communicate important information to both residents and families on a regular basis?

  • Will the nursing home be contacting you by phone or email, and when?
  • If your loved one is sick, will the nursing home contact you at regular intervals throughout the day to provide you with an update on their condition? If so, who is responsible for making that contact?

6. Is the nursing home currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides, and other workers?

  • What is the plan to make sure the needs of nursing home residents are met—like bathing, feeding, medication management, social engagement—if the nursing home has staffing shortages?
  • If a particular shift is understaffed, who will the nursing home call to fill in for those absent employees?

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 the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 1-877-582-6995.

Resources from AARP are also available online at

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