Connecticut’s acting public health commissioner on Thursday signed a new order that updates the state’s policy on nursing home visits, allowing limited indoor visits for certain residents who are at the end of life or who have deteriorated because of social isolation during the pandemic.
But a coalition of disability rights and legal advocates said the change falls far short of what is needed.
“Why should families need to wait until their loved one deteriorates before they can see them? Shouldn’t the goal be preventative - to do everything possible, within safety precautions due to COVID, to maintain quality of life,” the group asked in a written statement.
Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting public health commissioner, said the state knows how important visitations are to families and residents, but officials are also “very aware of what we saw in the spring with respect to the COVID infections in nursing facilities. So we’re taking it step by step. We think this will address a significant number of the challenges that we see. We want to see how this goes.”
Gifford said her order also requires each nursing home to develop a facility-wide visitation policy, assess the psycho-social needs of each resident and develop a visitation plan for each one. It also extends the minimum time for socially distanced visits outside or from a window from 20 to 30 minutes and requires facilities to allow these visitations at least five days a week, with one of those days falling on the weekend.