After three months of in-person restrictions on visitors, long-term care facilities in Wisconsin are now gradually opening up to window visits and small, supervised outdoor gatherings. Even so, some residents’ family and friends have for months reported difficulty in connecting with loved ones living in these facilities — at times struggling to get basic updates or even determine whether a facility was in the midst of an active coronavirus outbreak.
Helen Marks Dicks, state issues advocacy director at AARP Wisconsin, says that some residents’ loved ones are still being kept in the dark and that facilities should be maintaining regular lines of communication. Speaking as a guest on a weekly AARP Wisconsin Facebook Live video, Dicks highlighted AARP’s six-question checklist that was developed to help keep families and loved ones informed and long-term care facilities accountable.
Those six questions are:
- Has anyone in the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19?
- What is the nursing home doing to prevent infections?
- Does nursing home staff have the personal protective equipment needed to stay safe and keep residents safe?
- What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with those outside of the facility?
- What is the plan for the nursing home to communicate information to residents and families on a regular basis?
- Is the nursing home at full staffing levels?
Dicks noted that progress has been made on the advocacy front, pointing to a new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services portal that is updated weekly to reflect the latest nursing home infection data. But she described AARP’s work as only “halfway” completed, calling for more regular data updates to the portal and greater transparency from nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Watch the rest of her comments on AARP Wisconsin’s Facebook page.