The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee’s Unified Command Group has announced three new initiatives to enhance the well-being and quality of life of Tennesseans in long-term health care facilities. These efforts include expanding options for visitation, relaxing restrictions for resident interactions within LTCFs and the formation of the Tennessee COVID-19 Long-Term Care Task Force.
Expanded Visitation Options
Beginning October 1, 2020 facilities that have gone at least 14 days with no new COVID-19 cases among residents or staff members will immediately be allowed to offer outdoor or limited indoor visitation with residents. These visits will require maintaining strict precautions for the safety of both residents and staff members, including wearing masks, physical distancing, environmental disinfection and in some instances, testing of visitors.
If a facility reports no new cases for 28 days, it will be allowed to offer an essential caregiver program. Essential caregivers are designated individuals who may visit frequently to assist LTCF residents with activities of daily living, such as feeding, bathing and dressing.
Protecting the physical health of Tennessee’s long-term care residents is the primary concern. If a facility has new COVID-19 cases among residents or staff, these expanded visitation allowances will be suspended until the facility is once again infection-free for at least 14 days.
Enhanced Resident Interactions
Tennessee is also relaxing restrictions for resident interactions within long-term care facilities effective October 1. These include resumption of communal dining, therapeutic and social activities and visits by non-health care personnel such as barbers and beauticians. As with expanded visitation, these activities will only be allowed for residents who do not have COVID-19 in facilities that have had no new cases in at least 14 days. Facilities must maintain strict infection control practices, including use of masks, physical distancing and capacity limits.