What if I have an Elderly Family Member in a Nursing Home during COVID-19?
Authored By: Alaska Legal Services
Access to Family Members in Nursing Homes
Alaska Pioneer Homes:
As of Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 6 p.m., each of the six Pioneer Homes will be closed to all visitors including family. Each of the homes will be developing individual resident plans to help residents maintain contact with loved ones through other means. Each home has different capabilities regarding internet services, iPad availability, and Skype/FaceTime abilities. Please reach out to the homes to set up a plan that will work for you.
There are no limitations for residents leaving the home, although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that older adults limit close contact with others and to avoid crowds. If an individual is taken out it is recommended they follow these procedures along with washing hands frequently, especially when returning to the homes. Upon return, residents will be screened for signs of illness and risk of exposure while out.
It is unknown how long these precautions will remain in place.
Long-term care facilities:
Elders in nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, in response the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance for skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes--including those providing memory care to incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention minimal to moderate mitigation strategies. Each facility was asked to change visitor policies to further limit exposures to residents and staff, including: limit visitation to essential individuals (e.g., family members and medical providers). Screen all visitors for illness, and if visitors have symptoms of respiratory illness/COVID-19 or have had recent travel to an area with known COVID-19 transmission, ask them to use an alternative means to visit with the resident.
Each long-term care facility will have implemented a different visiting policy; it’s best to call the facility and see what visiting restrictions they have put in place and if there are alternative means available to visit (Skype/FaceTime abilities) to connect with your loved one.