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Spending Time with Loved Ones During the Holidays

November 23, 2022

The holiday season is quickly approaching and nursing home residents will soon be welcoming an increased number of loved ones visiting their facilities. With a little planning and preparation, residents can visit with their loved ones and stay safe during their holiday visits!

Remember: Residents have the right to see visitors of their choosing when they choose, and residents can leave their facilities to visit with family, participate in community activities, or for any other reason.

Visit Safely

  • Protect yourself and those around you by ensuring you and your family member are fully vaccinated. Get the latest COVID-19 boosters, and talk with the facility's administration about resident access.
  • The holidays are a busy time in nursing homes and many nursing homes facilitate large holiday events for their residents. During times of peak visitation and large gatherings, be aware that facilities may encourage physical distancing between families and groups to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other viruses. Read more in the the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) nursing home visitation guidance.
  • Unvaccinated visitors, or visitors who refuse to disclose their vaccination status, should be masked at all times. Whether fully vaccinated visitors will be required to mask in a facility will depend on the COVID-19 community transmission level. See our guidance for when visitors should mask in nursing homes.
  • Residents may choose to leave their facilities and visit their loved ones in their homes or go out to dinner or to an event. Residents who leave should follow all recommended infection prevention control measures. For those who leave for more than 24 hours the CDC recommends residents be tested for COVID-19 upon returning and advises residents to wear a face mask for 10 days.

Scheduling Your Visit

Even though the holidays are a special time, there are situations where it may make sense to delay your visit and celebrate later.

  • If the resident has COVID-19 or is in quarantine, CMS recommends that visitors delay their visit. If a visitor still chooses to visit, the facility will explain the risks of visiting the resident, and the visitor will be required to wear a facemask and stay in the resident’s room.
  • Visitors who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19 symptoms should wait to visit a nursing home until at least 10 days have passed since their first symptoms or positive test. Instead, facilities can help coordinate phone calls or video calls between the resident and their loved ones.
  • If a facility is currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, visitation is discouraged. If residents choose to have visitors during this time, visitors will be asked to stay in a resident’s room or a designated visiting area and should wear face masks and social distance.

If you have questions about visitation or residents’ rights, contact your Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

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