Florida task force to discuss long-term care visitation with safety in mind

For the past six months, residents in long-term care facilities and nursing homes haven’t been able to see their loved ones due to a statewide ban on nursing home visitors.

The state is now trying to figure out how to loosen those restrictions, while still making sure that their most vulnerable population is protected. 

The Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long Term Care Facilities will be meeting Tuesday to figure out what those guidelines should be to allow visitors back inside.

The guidelines were originally put in place back in March after nursing homes became a hotspot for the virus.

Over the past six months, nearly 10,000 residents and workers in these facilities have contracted COVID-19 and over 4,000 have died. 

It’s been a difficult couple of months for residents and families who have been unable to see their loved ones, especially for those families whose loved ones became sick while they were unable to visit.

The task force has already decided that ‘essential’ or ‘compassionate caregivers‘ should be allowed inside. This means anyone who provides a resident with everyday assistance like eating, dressing and bathing, or any person intended to help a resident face a hard situation such as a difficult transition. The state is also considering adding emotional caregivers to that list as well. 

It now comes down to the task force determining what guidelines should be in place to keep these elderly residents healthy.

Those in the long-term care facility industry are pushing for visitors who are allowed inside to be screened for COVID-19, to be required to wear a mask, and to social distance while inside. They’ve also said that visitors should be subjected to the same testing requirements as staff. 

The task force says after the governor gives his approval on their proposed plan, it won’t take long for these guidelines to be implemented, as they want to get residents and families reunited as quickly as possible.