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Holiday Visits to Long-Term Care Facilities

i Nov 21st No Comments by

During the holiday season, long-term care facilities including nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living communities, receive a high volume of visits from families, friends, local organizations and faith-based groups. These visits are extremely important to residents of long-term care facilities. Residents feel less depressed and isolated when visitors come to see them regularly. In addition, regular visitors may serve as advocates for resident care.

Generally, long-term care facilities residents have the right to receive visitors. Family members may visit any time. Long-term care ombudsman, the resident’s physician, the resident’s attorney, and clergy members may also visit the resident any time. Other visitors, including friends, neighbors and others may visit during the facility’s visiting hours. Federal and state laws and regulations address residents’ rights to visitors. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have guidelines about residents’ rights. CMS explains that the resident has a right “to visit and be visited by others outside the facility.” This means that, in addition to receiving visitors at the facility, residents have the right to leave the facility temporarily to visit with others in the community. Residents have the right to go out to lunch or dinner or some other event with family and friends. To learn more about rights to return to the facility including bed hold policy when a resident has an overnight visit away from the facility click this link:
http://theconsumervoice.org/uploads/files/issues/Revised_Nursing_Facility_Regulations_Return_to_Facility_After_Hospitalization.pdf

Long-term Care Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of long-term care facilities. Ombudsmen services are confidential; ombudsmen advocate according to the resident’s wishes. Each county in Georgia is served by the Ombudsman program. A list of the programs and contact information is available at www.georgiaombudsman.org. Ombudsmen are dedicated to advocating for long-term care residents regarding many issues, including their right to have visitors. Ombudsman can help by 1) informing the facility about visitation rights and 2) accompanying a visitor during a visit to ensure the resident’s rights are respected.

Tips for Visitors:

    • Call ahead to arrange your visit at a time that is best for the resident.
    • A resident’s room is his or her home. Knock and ask permission to enter.
    • Introduce yourself to the resident to remind him or her who you are. Residents may not see or hear as well as they once did, so may not recognize your face or voice.
    • Be attentive to the resident’s appearance and demeanor. Does he or she appear clean, appropriately dressed and well cared for? Ask about the quality of food and activities.
    • Many facilities plan special holiday events or activities. Consider planning a visit at those times to share the event with residents.
    • A resident may have had to leave his or her companion animals when he or she moved to the facility. Ask the facility about its policy for pet visits.
    • Residents with dementia may not be able to talk to you, but still appreciate the sound of another person’s voice.
    • If asked for help with water, food or assistance moving around the room, ask a staff member to assist, since you may not know if the resident has special needs or restrictions.

Melanie McNeil, Esq., State Ombudsman said, “The holidays are a time for reminiscing and creating new happy memories. Visits are important at this holiday season, and also throughout the year. Visiting helps each resident to stay connected with his or her community and helps to improve residents’ lives.”

If you are concerned about the care or treatment your loved one is receiving in a long-term care facility, or if your loved one expresses concerns, remember the best place to solve most problems is right where you are — in the facility. Try to clearly identify what the problem is then approach the administrator, director of nursing or facility social worker with your concern. Discuss possible solutions and ask when and how the concern will be addressed. If the problem remains unresolved, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is there to help. The name and contact information for the local ombudsman is posted prominently in every long-term care facility. You may also find the local ombudsman by calling 1-866-552-4464 or on the web at www.georgiaombudsman.org.

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