Ombudsman Assist With Compassionate Care Visits During COVID

Throughout the pandemic, Centralina Area Agency on Aging (AAA) Ombudsman have received numerous requests from long-term care residents and families to help increase visitation. One special type of visit is the compassionate care visit in which a family member or other visitor provides comfort, support and/or assistance to a resident whose well-being is suffering, at risk or who is dying.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services developed guidance that provides examples of situations when compassionate care visits should be permitted. These include:

  • A resident who is at the end of life.
  • A resident who was recently living with their family before being admitted to a nursing home and is now struggling with the change in environment and lack of physical family support.
  • A resident who is grieving after a the passing of a friend or family member.
  • A resident that is experiencing weight loss or dehydration and needs eating or drinking cueing and encouragement, previously provided by a family member and/or caregiver(s).
  • A resident who used to talk and interact with others and is now experiencing emotional distress, seldom speaks or cries more frequently compared to their previous crying history.

Compassionate care visits have heightened protections and should occur through a person-centered approach, meaning support is planned and provided based on the resident’s individual needs. Understandably, long-term care providers may be hesitant to allow visitors to enter their facility for safety reasons and fear of a COVID outbreak. However, compassionate care visits must be allowed if it is determined based on resident need. These visits are permitted regardless of COVID-19 status or county positivity rate. The length and frequency of the visit, and even the ability to make personal contact, are based on each resident’s need.

During the pandemic, the Ombudsman program handled numerous compassionate care complaints where the facility would not allow visits. Through advocacy efforts, Centralina AAA Ombudsman were able to help family members see their loved one that was nearing end of life before they passed away. Ombudsman have also successfully advocated for residents that had stopped eating and were losing considerable weight, resulting in permitted visits during mealtimes to assist and encourage the resident to eat. Centralina Ombudsman also helped prevent visitation issues from rising to the level of an official complaint by continuously educating facility staff and empowering family members of the visitation requirements.   

About the Ombudsman

Ombudsmen advocate for the rights of long-term care residents to enhance their quality of life. They’re responsible for investigating complaints and working with residents, family members and concerned citizens. Ombudsman help residents age with dignity, choice and independence. Contact your local Ombudsman at 800-508-5777 or CLICK HERE to download the brochure.