The Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) Commission has expanded statewide visitation for nursing facilities and other long-term care settings, effective today.
The expansion comes after federal guidance that was issued on March 10 that allows fully vaccinated residents to have close in-person visits with family and friends as long as proper safeguards are in place.
“Safely visiting with family and friends is vital to the mental health and well-being of long-term care residents,” said Victoria Ford, HHS chief policy and regulatory officer. “We are so pleased these new rules will allow residents to enjoy in-person visits with a wider circle of loved ones.”
The newly updated visitation rules for nursing facilities give additional flexibilities that fall in line with new guidelines.
Texas nursing facilities can now permit the following along with the following protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including mask-wearing:
- close or personal contact during any visitation for fully vaccinated residents
- outdoor visitation at all facilities, even when the facility has an outbreak
- up to two essential caregivers at the same time to visit a resident with any COVID-19 status
- all visitation without time limits, while adhering to infection prevention and control measures
- end-of-life visits for all residents regardless of their COVID-19 status in all nursing facilities, with an expanded definition of end-of-life visits that now includes all residents receiving hospice services; residents at or near the end of life, with or without hospice services; and residents whose prognosis does not indicate recovery
Nursing facilities no longer need to:
- request general visitation approval from HHSC
- monitor visits or escort visitors to and from the visitation area
- limit indoor visitation to areas with a plexiglass barrier or booth
- require documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result for essential caregiver or salon services visitors
HHSC also expanded visitation in assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, and Home and Community-based Service providers.
The new rules also remove some administrative requirements for providers, such as the rules to have staff monitor certain visits and escort visitors to and from visiting areas.