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Can I visit a nursing home or long-term care facility? How are these facilities reopening? What safety precautions must they take?
As of June 21, New Jersey's nursing homes, Assisted Living residences, dementia care homes, pediatric transitional care homes, and comprehensive personal care homes, can welcome reunions with loved ones in a designated outdoor space.
Individuals should check with long-term care facilities for specific visitor policies. The Department of Health has issued a Directive with measures that must be in place to reduce risks, including:
- A resident who is suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 or quarantined for a COVID-19 exposure cannot have visitors. A resident who has tested positive is allowed visitation after they have met the criteria for discontinuation of isolation.
- There will only be two visitors permitted at a time and the visitors must remain at least 6 feet away from the resident. Both visitors and residents must wear face coverings.
- A staff member, wearing a surgical mask, must remain with the resident during the visit.
- A designated area should be established for visitors to be screened that maintains social distancing and infection control standards. If the individual has any COVID-19 symptoms, they will not be permitted to visit with a resident.
- Visitors are not allowed beyond the reception area of the facilities and restrooms will not be available to them.
- When staff are transporting the resident outdoors, they cannot be moved through any space where either positive or suspected COVID patients are cohorted. A safe distance of 6 feet distance must be maintained between other residents and staff.
- Long-term care facilities should communicate the visitor policy to residents, families, staff and others. They should receive informed consent from the resident and the visitor in writing that they are aware of the possible dangers of COVID-19 exposure and that they will comply with the facility's policies during the visit. As part of the consent form, the visitor must agree to notify the facility if they test positive for the virus or have symptoms within 14 days of visiting.
For a full list of safety requirements, refer to the Department of Health Executive Directive 20-017.
During end-of-life situations, healthy visitors are permitted within long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, dementia care homes, pediatric transitional care homes, and comprehensive personal care homes.
Healthy is defined as individuals with no signs of respiratory illness such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. They should not have had contact with anyone with or suspected of having COVID-19 or any respiratory illness and individuals should be wearing the appropriate protective equipment.
For a full list of safety requirements refer to Department of Health Executive Guidance 20-017.
If residents or their families need emotional support as a result of difficulties related to the pandemic—such as an extended absence from each other—there are resources available to help.
You can call New Jersey's toll-free hotline and speak with counselors 7 days a week at 1-866-202-HELP (4357).
Visiting Pediatric, Developmentally Disabled, and Intellectually Disabled Residents
In addition to outdoor visits, parents, family, and legal guardians of pediatric, developmentally disabled, and intellectually disabled residents may visit their loved ones indoors at long-term care facilities.
Due to how medically fragile these residents are, visits are by appointment only, health screenings and temperature checks are required, and may only occur at facilities that have had no new probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last 28 days. Visitors must wear face coverings.
For a full list of safety requirements, refer to Department of Health Executive Directive No. 20-025.
REOPENING GUIDANCE FOR LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES
The Department of Health has issued detailed guidance for the phased reopening of long-term care facilities.
When facilities conclude their outbreaks and implement the requirements of DOH's Executive Directive No. 20-026, they will be able to restore services for residents in phases, culminating in indoor visitation and the restart of normal activities.
The phased-in reopening is based on the outbreak status of a facility, its ability to meet criteria, including, but not limited to, testing of staff and residents, infection control protocols, and adequate staffing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and is tied to the timing of the state's reopening plan.
For more information about specific safety protocols and visitation policies, contact a long-term care facility directly. To learn more about the Department of Health's guidance and the phased reopening process, refer to Executive Directive No. 20-026.
Source: Governor Murphy's Remarks 5/5/20; https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200506b.shtml; NJ Health Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 5/20/20; Governor Murphy's Remarks 5/21/20; Executive Directive 20-017; Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 7/6/20; Executive Directive No. 20-025; Commissioner Persichiili's Remarks 7/22/20; Executive Directive No. 20-026