Nursing Home Residents Suffer as Overly Strict Covid Restrictions Persist:

Social distancing and limited visitation amount to continued isolation for lonely and infirm residents.

Despite a significantly lower risk for transmitting COVID-19 following the vaccination of 75% of American nursing home residents, pandemic restrictions inside homes continue to be enforced, says an Associated Press article, a measure that family members say does more harm than good.

While pandemic rules around the nation are being loosened, mask-wearing and social distancing within many nursing homes continues to be the norm, even as the numbers of COVID infections and deaths in homes have dropped dramatically. Frustrated family members say that the distanced activities, the near-isolation during dining, and, in some homes, the prohibition of hugs, does not meaningfully differ from the pandemic isolation that took a substantial mental and emotional toll on lonely and sick elderly residents—particularly those suffering from dementia—during imposed lockdowns. Especially difficult for residents and their families alike is the limited visitation that is still required in many homes. In some cases, visits are restricted to once or twice a week or even less frequently, with visitation times ranging from two hours down to just 15 minutes. Visitation ceases entirely if someone in the home tests positive for COVID.

According to the article, some Pennsylvania nursing homes’ COVID-19 restrictions, such as the limits on visitation, exceed state and federal requirements. While these measures seek to protect the vulnerable elderly, families claim they are not only unnecessary, but harmful, in some cases contributing to the mental and physical decline of nursing home residents.

While nursing home residents suffer as overly strict COVID restrictions persist, advocacy groups concerned about residents’ suffering and decline as a result of limited visitation have reached out to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and requested that full visitation rights be restored. These groups also seek a change in federal guidance regarding what measures should be taken in the event of new COVID-19 cases. While federal guidance requires a suspension of visits for at least 14 days, advocates and family members argue that this is excessive when only a case or two crop up in a home.

The coronavirus pandemic led to over 650,000 COVID-19 infections of long-term care residents and the death of more than 130,000 in the country’s nursing homes, harrowing numbers that explain the extreme limitations put into place during the height of the crisis. But family members and advocates dispute the continued necessity of certain safety restrictions, when the focus should be shifted to improving the mental and emotional health of vulnerable elderly residents

Ensuring Your Loved One’s Needs Are Met

The Philadelphia/PA or NJ nursing home where your loved one lives is required not only to meet health and safety standards, but also to secure the physical, mental, and psycho/social well-being of their residents. Should you have concerns about the quality of care in a Pennsylvania or New Jersey nursing home, or if you suspect neglect, abuse, or fraud has occurred at the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home where your loved one lives, please contact nursing home abuse attorney Brian P. Murphy to discover your legal rights and options.