Restoring Visitation Rights in Facilities after COVID

KABC APPLAUDS the new State Long Term Care Ombudsman (SLTCO), Camille Russell, for her excellent article in the Kansas Reflector. 


Ms. Russell rightfully calls out the ongoing practice of many nursing and assisted living facilities to unnecessarily restrict the visitation rights of residents living under their roofs. It is still happening in too many Kansas nursing and assisted living facilities.

We hear from families that residents and their visitors are being told there is a facility limit on the number of visitors allowed in the care home at any one time, or only so many visitors per day or per week. Some claim federal law requires these limits. That is simply not so. Federal law still protects the right of residents to have visitors of their choosing anytime, any day, several times a day. This is a throwback to
nursing home care before the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987. Vaccinations are working to control the virus. Facilities must, as always, assure resident safety and residents’ rights. They simply cannot breach human rights just because they do not have enough staff, it is
too much trouble or they fear the oversight of visitors once again in their buildings. We know isolation, loneliness and depression are dangerous to residents’ health, safety and welfare and this continued ban on visitors puts all residents at unnecessary risk.

We join the State Long Term Care Ombudsman in calling on the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to revoke assisted living facilities’ “authority” to block or curb visitors. Federally regulated nursing facility owners and operators know, or should know, they no longer have any real reason to block, narrowly limit or otherwise thwart residents’ rights to visitors. We appreciate the commitment of the SLTCO to the health, safety and quality of life for all nursing home residents in Kansas.

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