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The spread of the coronavirus has forced the federal government to restrict visitor access at nursing homes, and many assisted living facilities have done the same. While the move helps the residents stay healthy, it can also lead to social isolation and depression. As a result, families are finding new ways to stay in touch.
Nursing homes have been hit hard by the coronavirus. The Life Care Center of Kirkland, located near Seattle, was one of the first clusters of coronavirus in the country and has endured tragic consequences. At least 35 deaths have been associated with the facility. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) responded by issuing a guidance to nursing homes, where all visitors are restricted, except for compassionate care in end-of-life situations. All volunteers and nonessential personnel have been limited to restricted access, and all group activities and communal dining have been canceled. While these actions are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, they can leave families worried and upset, also making residents feel isolated and confused.
Families are doing all they can to keep in contact with their loved ones, many of whom do not fully understand why their family is no longer visiting. Nursing homes are also helping to facilitate contact. Some options for keeping in touch include the following:
- Phone calls. Phone calls are still an option to talk to your loved one.
- Window visits. Families who are able to visit their loved one’s window can use that approach to have in-person visits.
- Telecommunication. Many nursing homes are facilitating video calls with families through platforms such as Facetime or Skype. Some nursing homes have purchased additional tablets as well, while others have staff members going between rooms with a dedicated tablet to help residents make calls.
- Cards and letters. Sending cards and letters to your loved ones is another way to show them that you are thinking of them. Some nursing homes have also set up Facebook pages, where people can send messages to residents.
In this unprecedented time, families will need to get creative to stay in touch with their loved ones.
See below for additional articles regarding how families and nursing homes are coping with the new restrictions: