Alabama Nursing Homes Are Reopening: What to Look for When You Go
One of the biggest challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the inability to visit loved ones without putting them at risk of catching the virus. This is especially true when your loved one is among the most vulnerable category of the population and living in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Though many Alabama residents have been able to visit elderly loved ones in outdoor settings, some can now do so indoors, too, provided they follow the state’s protocol.
In late September 2020, the Alabama Nursing Home Association announced a plan to resume indoor visitation in nursing homes. Outdoor visitations will also continue to be an option for visitation.
What Led to the ANHA’s Change in Plans?
Two factors have enabled indoor visitation: updated guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and an amended state health order. The guidance cautions facilities to take several precautions before allowing visits.
For example, nursing homes must:
- Have no new COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days before allowing indoor visitors
- Restrict the number of visitors per resident
- Limit the number of visitors in the building at any single time
- Restrict visitors’ access inside the building to essential spaces only
All visitors must wear a mask over their mouth and nose while practice social distancing during their entire visit. A failure to follow these policies could lead to a denial of future indoor visits.
What You Should Do When Visiting a Loved One Indoors
- Schedule an appointment in advance of your visit.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before, during, and after the indoor visit.
- Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose throughout your visit.
- Keep a distance of at least six feet from both staff and residents.
- Stay away from areas not designated for visitation.
What NOT to Do When Visiting a Loved One Indoors
- Don’t attempt to visit your loved one without first booking an appointment.
- Don’t take off your mask while visiting your loved one indoors.
- Don’t walk into any restricted areas of the nursing home.
- Don’t attempt to visit your loved one if you’ve had symptoms of the coronavirus, even if you believe the symptoms are not due to COVID-19.
Is It Really Safe to Visit Your Loved One Inside a Nursing Home?
Though the number of new coronavirus cases in Alabama has declined over recent weeks, it’s clear from the data that Alabama officials are still struggling to contain the outbreak. Choosing to visit a loved one in a nursing home is a highly personal decision, and every individual must weigh the pros and cons to decide if it’s in their (and their loved one’s) best interests.
If you do choose to visit your loved one, it’s essential you follow the guidelines set forth by the Alabama Nursing Home Association. Never visit if you’ve shown coronavirus symptoms and be sure to wear a mask at all times and maintain social distance from your loved one and the nursing home’s staff.
Warning Signs to Look for When Visiting Your Loved One
When you’re visiting your loved one in a nursing home, you should be aware of common warning signs of abuse or neglect. Many families don’t realize the unsafe conditions their loved ones are living in until they see them in person.
If you’re concerned about abuse or neglectful care in your loved one’s nursing home, look for these warning signs in your loved one:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, or other injuries
- Weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Significant changes in health status
- Significant personality changes
These warning signs could signal that your loved one isn’t being given the treatment they deserve. If you’re concerned about the health and safety of your loved one, know that we’re here to help.
If You Need Legal Help, Contact Us
The Sawyer Law Firm is known throughout Alabama for our track record on nursing home abuse and neglect cases. If you want to speak to a law firm that knows these cases, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.