New visitation guidance targets social isolation

… and longterm care operators. Their recommendations are based on a consensus vote on pooled information from state and federal reopening rules.

Efforts to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in eldercare settings have had the unfortunate side effect of isolating residents, with mental and physical health consequences. Senior living advocate Argentum and a bi-national panel of industry experts have released new recommendations and tools to encourage safe visitation in an effort to help ease the problem.

A 21-member panel of geriatricians, facility operators and other resident care advocates from the United States and Canada on Wednesday announced that they have finalized detailed visitation guidance for post-acute and long-term care operators.

Their recommendations are based on a consensus vote on pooled information from state and federal reopening rules. The resulting paper, “Recommendations for Welcoming Back Nursing Home Visitors during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results of a Delphi Panel,” is available as a pre-proof from JAMDA.

Among the key recommendations:

  • Maintain strong infection prevention and control precautions
  • Facilitate indoor and outdoor visits
  • Allow limited physical contact with appropriate precautions
  • Assess individual residents’ care preferences and level of risk tolerance
  • Dedicate an essential caregiver and extend the definition of compassionate care visits to include care that promotes psychosocial wellbeing of residents.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has seen substantial regulatory changes without strong consideration of the impact on residents,” the panel wrote. “In the absence of timely and rigorous research, the involvement of clinicians and patient care advocates is important to help create the balance between individual resident preferences and the health of the collective.”

Argentum releases Essential Caregiver program toolkit

Also on Wednesday, Argentum announced that it is now offering a toolkit to help operators implement an Essential Caregiver program, even in highly restricted settings. These programs designate an outside caregiver to advocate on behalf of a resident.

“The Essential Caregiver program has become a flexible, workable, and beneficial solution” toward reducing the health hazards of social isolation among older adults, Argentum stated.

The toolkit, available for download on the organization’s publications webpage, defines program terms and sets boundaries, including:

  • Model regulation
  • Planning and implementation checklists
  • Communication tools for residents, families, and staff
  • Essential Caregiver application, screening, and risk acknowledgement templates

For more details on Argentum’s Essential Caregiver toolkit, visit McKnight’s Senior Living.