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Guidance for nursing home, long-term care visitations announced

AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott announced new visitation guidance for eligible nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, home and community-based service providers and inpatient hospice effective Sept. 24.

Under the new rules, residents will be allowed to designate up to two essential family caregivers who will be provided necessary training to allow them to safely go inside a facility for a scheduled visit, including in the resident’s room, to help ensure their loved one’s physical, social, and emotional needs are being met.

Designated caregivers will not be required to maintain physical distancing, but only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time.

A long-term care facility resident (or legal representative) can designate the essential caregiver, who can be a family member, friend, or other individual. Facilities are required to train essential caregivers on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other infection control measures.

Proper PPE must be used at all times during these scheduled visits, and the caregiver must test negative for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days before the initial visit.

For general visitors who are not a designated essential caregiver, these updated emergency rules will allow approved facilities to schedule outdoor no contact visits, open window visits, or indoor visitation with the use of plexiglass safety barriers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Physical contact between residents and general visitors is not permitted. Facilities also must continue to meet all additional visitation requirements outlined in the emergency rules.