Visits are an important way to stay connected with a loved one who is in a nursing home. But you may be wondering whether in-person visits are possible right now.
Some long-term care facilities are still closed to visitors, while others are limiting the number of people allowed in the building. All facilities are taking additional protective measures for the health and safety of their residents, staff and visitors. Here’s what you need to know before you visit — along with some creative ways to stay connected with your loved one if you can’t be there in person.
Before planning a visit, go to the nursing home’s website or call the facility to check their current visitation policy. Many nursing homes are strictly limiting how many people they allow inside. Visitors may be allowed only if a loved one is near the end of life.
Some long-term care facilities may have other specific requirements. For example, you may need to call the front desk and schedule your visit in advance, instead of just walking in. Or you may only be allowed in for a short period of time, between certain hours. In some cases, in-person visits might be permitted only for special occasions, such as celebrating a birthday or anniversary.
New Safety Measures
If you are permitted inside the facility, you’ll notice new safety measures while you are there. These are in place to protect the health of all residents, staff and visitors. Some of these safety measures may include the following:
Temperature checks and symptom screenings. All visitors may be screened at the entrance. If you have a fever, cough or other signs of a respiratory illness, you may be asked to reschedule your visit.
Face masks. Bring a mask or a cloth face covering. Staff may also be wearing protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.
Social distancing. You will need to stay 6 feet away from others, including your loved one.
Washing your hands often during your visit. The nursing home may have hand sanitizer stations set up throughout the facility.
Frequent cleaning. All resident rooms, common areas and high-touch surfaces — such as door handles, chairs and tables — will be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
On the Outside, Looking In
Seeing a familiar friend’s or family member’s face can be an important emotional boost for nursing home residents. So at some facilities, even if you’re not allowed inside, you may still be permitted to see your loved one in person through a first-floor window. Or you may be allowed into the entry area, while your loved one stays inside behind glass doors.
Most facilities are happy to work with you to safely arrange some face-to-face time. As always, check with the facility first and find out what’s permitted for your visit.
Creative Ways to Connect
If you can’t visit in person, there are still many creative ways to reach out to your loved one and show them you care. Here are a few ideas:
Virtual visits. Many nursing homes are helping residents connect with their family and friends by offering FaceTime and Skype calls using staff iPads. Contact the facility and ask if the staff can help arrange this type of video call for you.
Pick up the phone. Just hearing your voice may be comforting to your loved one. If you can’t be there in person, check in often by phone.
Send something by mail. Everyone loves to receive something special in the mail. Send a card or a letter to your loved one, and let them know you’re thinking about them. Or arrange to have a gift sent to them — a puzzle, a book, flowers, maybe a special photo album that you’ve created using an online photo site.
Share a meal together — over video. If it’s not possible to have a meal together in person, you can still arrange the next best thing. Pick a certain day and time, and have a local restaurant deliver one of your loved one’s favorite dishes while you prepare something for yourself. Then set up a video call and enjoy a meal together. Call the nursing home in advance and get their help in arranging the details.
Keeping You Safe — And Informed
At AdventHealth, we’re committed to providing you with safe, trusted, expert health care and information. To learn more about new safety measures we’re using to keep you safe, visit AdventHealth.com.