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Can I visit a nursing home or long-term care facility? What are the safety protocols?

Last Updated: 05/28/2021

Note: Face masks remain mandatory on public transportation, and may be required in health care facilities, nursing homes, child care facilities, prisons, and K-12 schools, based on CDC guidance. For more information, refer to Executive Order No. 242.

As more long-term care residents get vaccinated and as outbreaks decline in these facilities, the Department of Health has issued guidance which allows for an expansion of responsible indoor visitation.

The guidance allows for indoor visitation at all times regardless of the vaccination status of the resident or visitor—except for a few circumstances where visitation should be limited due to high risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Please check with a specific facility for visiting hours and policies as there are strict health and safety requirements.

Residents or loved ones experiencing challenges in navigating the options for visitation at long-term care facilities can call the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 1-877-582-6992, or visit nj.gov/ooie to send an email or to file a complaint.

For the latest on outbreaks, the reopening status of facilities, and frequently asked questions, visit the NJ Department of Health's Long-Term Care Resource page.

VISITATION GUIDANCE FOR LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES

If both the visitor and the resident are fully vaccinated, residents and their visitors may choose to have close contact including touching and removing their facemasks if they are alone in the resident's room or the designated visitation room.

Fully vaccinated residents may choose to have close contact including touching with their unvaccinated visitor, however they both must wear well-fitting face masks

Indoor visitation at long-term care facilities in regions where the COVID-19 Activity Level Index (CALI score) is high or very high and less than 70% of the residents of the facility are fully vaccinated, should be limited for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated residents.

Indoor visitation of unvaccinated residents can take place regardless of CALI score if 70% of the residents in the facility are vaccinated.

Indoor compassionate care, essential caregiver, and end-of-life visitation and outdoor visitation can be permitted even when indoor visitation is otherwise restricted because of the facility's status.

Indoor visitation should be limited for residents under quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

In addition, indoor visitation should also be limited for residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue precautions.

When a new case of COVID-19 among residents or staff is identified, a facility should immediately begin testing and suspend visitation (except as required under federal disability rights law and Department guidance/directives) until at least one round of facility-wide testing is completed.

In the case of an outbreak at a facility, indoor visitation is still possible, as long as COVID-19 transmission is contained to a single area of the facility.

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 on visitation, refer to Department of Health's Guidelines for Services, Group Activities, Visitation, and Testing at Long-Term Care Facilities.

Outdoor Visits

Outdoor visits are permitted at all times for residents who are not COVID-19 positive and who are not in quarantine under transmission-based precautions.

All screening and infection prevention and control protocols must be followed, and visits must be scheduled with the facility in accordance with NJ Department of Health safety guidelines.

Outdoor visits are allowed in any phase for the facility and CALI score for the region. Individuals should check with long-term care facilities for specific visitor policies.

For a full list of safety requirements, refer to the Department of Health's Guidelines for Services, Group Activities, Visitation, and Testing at Long-Term Care Facilities.

Communal Activities and Outside Services

If all residents participating in a group activity or communal dining are fully vaccinated, they can participate without physical distancing and without wearing a mask during the activity.

Non-essential personnel such as barbers and hair stylists are permitted to enter a long-term care facility if they are screened by the facility and if the facility has a protocol for services to be delivered safely, which must include infection prevention and control precautions, physical distancing, hand hygiene cleaning between clients and use of a well-fitting face mask. Staff testing requirements apply to these individuals.

Source: Department of Health's Guidelines for Services, Group Activities, Visitation, and Testing at Long-Term Care Facilities; https://www.nj.gov/health/news/2021/approved/20210322a.shtml