Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors have been the most susceptible to not only the worst complications the virus can cause, but the loneliness that comes with isolating for safety.

On Thursday, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced rules for limited visitation at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. That's great news for people who haven't been able to visit their loved ones in these facilities for months, as well as the residents who would surely benefit from seeing the people they love in person.

There are different rules for nursing homes and long-term care facilities, but both sets of rules are designed with the health and safety of the residents the first priority.

 

At nursing homes, only limited outdoor visits will be permitted. Physical contact between visitors and residents won't be allowed for now, so you won't be able to hug or shake hands. I know that's kind of a bummer, but again, it's to protect those residents.

Nursing homes will have to meet the following conditions to allow these visits:

  • No confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in staff in the last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Any facility previously experiencing an outbreak that has fully recovered must be adequately staffed and following adequate infection control procedures.
  • Facility staff are being tested for COVID-19 weekly.

At long-term care facilities, both limited indoor and outdoor visits will be allowed. As with nursing homes, physical contact will not be permitted.

Long-term care centers must meet these conditions to allow visits:

  • No confirmed COVID-19 positive staff in last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Adequate staffing to facilitate visitation in compliance with infection control requirements.
  • Use of plexiglass as a safety barrier for indoor visitation to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Most nursing homes and care facilities require visitors wear a mask, so don't forget yours when you arrange a visit. Even if you're not showing symptoms, you could be carrying the coronavirus, and the mask helps reduce the risk of spreading it. So does allowing for safe physical distancing.

The circumstances and conditions aren't ideal, but then, neither is this entire situation. If you're not sick and you want to visit grandma, I'm sure she'd love to see you and be able to talk face to (reasonably separated) face. It sure beats talking solely via webcam. Just be safe and courteous when you go say hi.

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