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November 1, 2022

In this Issue:

  1. CMS Relaxes Enforcement of Nursing Home Staff Vaccination Mandate
  2. Supporting Residents' Right to Vote
  3. Celebrating a Successful Residents' Rights Month
  4. Save the Date: Virtual Office Hour on Visitation During the Holidays

CMS Relaxes Enforcement of Nursing Home Staff Vaccination Mandate

Despite noting its success, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on October 26, 2022 that it was relaxing enforcement practices regarding its mandate that all nursing home staff be vaccinated against COVID-19.  The updated guidance noted that because COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths were down across the country, it was relaxing the enforcement penalties when nursing homes do not meet the vaccination requirements. Facilities that do not comply with the mandate will be cited at Level 1 noncompliance, essentially the lowest level of violation. Additionally, facilities that do not meet the mandate could be able to avoid any citation by showing they are attempting to meet the mandate requirements.
 
Consumer Voice strongly supported the implementation of the vaccine mandate for staff. Due to industry wide failures in infection control, vaccines have proven to be the most effective protection from COVID-19 for nursing home residents. The decrease in deaths from COVID-19 was evidence of the efficacy of the vaccine mandate in nursing homes, not a signal to CMS to decrease resident protections. Consumer Voice strongly opposes the revisions to the guidance and believes the guidance is a step in the wrong direction.

Supporting Residents' Right to Vote

Individuals receiving long-term services and supports retain their voting rights, no matter where they live or what type of care they receive.
Federal regulations guarantee residents’ rights, including their rights as citizens, which includes the right to vote.  However, residents of long-term care facilities often have a harder time voting due to mobility, health, and other issues that inhibit their ability to vote.

Resources are available for residents of long-term care facilities to help them register to vote, obtain mail-in ballots, and learn what to expect on the ballot:

Celebrating a Successful Residents' Rights Month

RRM2022_RGB.pngIt has been a very exciting month celebrating Residents' Rights. We have heard about events, news coverage, and celebrations across the country honoring residents' rights and celebrating the dignity, respect, and value of each individual resident.

This year's theme was Inspiring Unity within Our Community, and it acknowledged that being a part of a community is essential to our well-being. The theme emphasized the importance of fostering a meaningful community within the facility and encouraged residents’ connection to their local community.

Save the Date: Virtual Office Hour on Visitation During the Holidays

The National Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) is hosting a virtual open office hour the last Wednesday of each month at 2:00 pm ET for long-term care Ombudsmen representatives. The next call is Wednesday, November 30th. This is an opportunity to ask questions, share information, and have open conversations with your peers and NORC staff.

The focus of the November call will be visitation in nursing homes during the holidays. These Zoom calls do not include a structured presentation and are open to all State Ombudsmen and their program representatives. These calls will not be recorded and do not require registration. Use this link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85675114259

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