DHEC updates visitation guidelines

Guidelines for nursing home visitations
Nursing home visitation
Nursing home visitation Photo credit Getty Images

Released by DHEC.

These visitation guidelines apply to nursing homes and community residential care facilities.*

Residents of these facilities benefit emotionally, mentally, and physically from visitation from loved ones. DHEC previously provided Guidelines for Outdoor Visitation on September 1, 2020, and this document replaces that to update those outdoor visitation guidelines as well as to provide guidelines for limited indoor visitation.

These are based on the most recent CMS guidance for reopening nursing homes, as well as CDC guidance for COVID-19 in nursing homes.
Facilities should continue to communicate their current visitation policy with residents’ family members and keep them informed of any changes to their policies.

Facilities may not restrict in person visitation (outdoor and/or indoor as appropriate) unless “a reasonable clinical or safety cause” is present. Examples of such reasons include the facility’s COVID-19
status, the resident being in isolation or quarantine for COVID-19, the county’s positivity rate being >10% (for indoor visitation), and lack of adherence to infection control methods. Exclusion criteria which
would restrict visitation are below.

Compassionate care visits by family, religious leaders, or other persons who can meet the needs of the resident are permitted regardless of the facility’s visitation status. If the resident is on transmission based precautions for COVID-19, the compassionate care visitor must follow such precautions.

In addition to end-of-life situations, examples of compassionate care situations include, but are not limited to:
​-a resident, who was living with their family before recently being admitted to a facility, is struggling with the change in environment and lack of physical family support
-a resident who is grieving after a friend or family member recently passed away
-a resident who needs cueing and encouragement with eating or drinking, previously provided by family and/or caregiver(s), is experiencing weight loss or dehydration
-a resident, who used to talk and interact with others, is experiencing emotional distress, seldom speaking, or crying more frequently (when the resident had rarely cried in the past.)
​The abovementioned examples are not an exhaustive list as other compassionate care situations may be considered by facilities.

Virtual visits and window visits remain permitted in all scenarios.

​The full guidelines for visitation are available here​.