Nursing facilities re-evaluate visitation policies with new CDC guidelines

NOW: Nursing facilities re-evaluate visitation policies with new CDC guidelines

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Many nursing facilities are currently evaluating whether they’ll be revisiting visitation policies outside visitors with the new CDC guidelines released Tuesday. State officials began allowing visitors again last month, but many family members are worried things may go back to a complete shutdown.

“It was very stressful because usually you know you can go and actually see them. So you know how they’re doing actually for real and not just someone a nurse on the phone," said Denise Bilderback, South Bend Resident.

The pandemic caused many families to stay distant for months, but for Bilderback it was especially hard because she wasn’t able to see or speak to her father in law even after he suffered several strokes last year. .

“We never want to go back to where we were in shutting out people from the facilities. I don’t see that could be a problem. There may be some adjustments, but I don’t think there will be an all out lockdown again," said Brian Lee, Executive Director for Families for Better Care.

Experts say the shut down created many psychological concerns for residents, including feelings of abandonment.

While there are obvious concerns relating to COVID he says many facilities are learning from the previous shutdown on how they can better serve their residents without taking away visitation completely.

“We could move maybe away from indoor visitations to some degree. Maybe more outdoor visitation. Testing could be ramped up at facilities. Those are possibilities," said Lee.

With no official state requirements at this time there are no immediate changes to visitation policies, but it’s something many say needs to stick around to ensure a healthy mindset for residents.

“I think they feel much better the ones that are in now that they could have visitation. I think that just does that’s just the best medicine for everything," said Bilderback.

Lee says one of the biggest factors will be to have every care worker vaccinated as well as visitors to protect residents who may not be in a good place health wise to receive the vaccine.

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