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June 30, 2020

In this Issue:

  1. Visitation Saves Lives - Join Today's Day of Action
  2. CMS Issues Visitation FAQs
  3. Submit Comments about CMS Rule on COVID-19 Reporting for Nursing Homes
  4. New Resources Available in Consumer Voice Store
  5. COVID-19 Essential Checklists for Moving Home
  6. Deputy Secretary of HHS Sends Letter to Governors Requesting PPE for Workforce Serving Older Adults and People with Disabilities
  7. Tool for Advance Care Planning During COVID-19 from AMDA
  8. CMS Issues Press Release on Nursing Home Residents' Right to Retain Their Stimulus Checks
  9. Webinar Materials Available
    • COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents - Part X
    • Ombudsman Program Communication and Advocacy During COVID-19

Visitation Saves Lives - Join Today's Day of Action
The visitation ban in long-term care facilities, in place for more than 100 days now, has been an extreme hardship for residents and their families.  While it’s hard on all of us to experience missed birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s days, unable to see each other in-person, hold a hand or give a hug, the ban has been extremely traumatic for residents of long term care and nursing homes, resulting in significant physical and psychosocial decline, and sometimes death.

Join us in calling on state and federal agencies to permit every long-term care resident to designate an Essential Support Person who will be permitted to visit onsite, following the same screening and infection control protocols as staff.

During today's visitation day of action:

  • Share a video, photo or statement about what the visitation ban has meant for you and your loved ones and tell us why you visit
  • Use #Connection Matters and #VisitationSavesLives
  • Let us know: Tag @ConsumerVoices on Twitter and @theconsumervoice on Facebook
  • Let decisionmakers know: Tag @SeemaCMS, @CMSgov, and your own state Governor, state Dept. of Public Health, and licensing agency for assisted living
  • Share your story in an email to: Seema.verma@cms.hhs.gov and your own state Governor
  • Submit your story to us on our website
Learn more »

CMS Issues Visitation FAQs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a new set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding nursing home visitation.  The FAQs address steps nursing homes should take before reopening to visitors, further information on "compassionate care situations" and more.

Read the FAQs »

Submit Comments about CMS Rule on COVID-19 Reporting for Nursing Homes
On May 8, 2020, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an “Interim Final Rule with Comment Period” mandating that nursing homes report certain information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and related but different information to residents, their representatives, and their families. Although the rule went immediately into effect, CMS is providing the public with an opportunity to comment.

The rule contains many essential provisions, and Consumer Voice is pleased that CMS is requiring nursing homes to report data such as the number of cases and deaths.  At the same time, we believe the rule should be strengthened to address gaps in reporting requirements that make it difficult to gain a true picture of what is happening within facilities.

We urge you to submit comments calling on CMS to mandate that additional data be collected and that nursing homes share with residents, their representatives, and their families the same information they report to the CDC.  Comments are due by 5:00pm ET on July 7, 2020.

We have created some guidance to help you write and submit your comments. The guidance includes a list of points you might include as well as a link to the Consumer Voice comment letter. You are free to use or “borrow” anything in the letter that is helpful to you. Learn more »

New Resources in Consumer Voice Store
Advocating for residents of long-term care facilities, and supporting self-advocacy, may look different during COVID-19.  It is as important as ever to be empowered and equipped with information and resources to continue to advocate for quality of life and quality care.  Consumer Voice’s online store has a multitude of publications and products that provide information, support advocacy, and raise awareness.  

Check out our newest items:

Remember Consumer Voice members receive 10% off of store purchases.  Email info@theconsumervoice.org for the discount code.
 
Visit the store »

COVID-19 Essential Checklists for Moving Home
Families coping with the safety and economic impacts of COVID-19 have found themselves discussing readjustments in home life. On one hand, with the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in long-term care facilities, some families are considering taking their loved ones home. While other families have encountered financial strain causing adult children to move in with their parents. These are very personal decisions, for which you will need a plan. Even in the most genial of families, close quarters and changes in living situations may heighten emotions, potentially contributing to family discord and elder abuse. Efforts can be made to reduce tensions and promote a healthy and safe environment for all.

Consumer Voice and the National Center on Elder Abuse have created two new checklists to help navigate these issues:

Deputy Secretary of HHS Sends Letter to Governors Requesting PPE for Workforce Serving Older Adults and People with Disabilities
Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan wrote a letter on June 19th to Governors asking that the workforce that provides services for older adults and people with disabilities receive the tools and protective equipment they need.  Essential workers named in the letter include Adult Protective Services (APS) workers, State Long-Term Care Ombudsmen, Protection & Advocacy (P&A) workers, and provideres in long-term care facilities and congregate settings, among others.  Deputy Secretary Hargan asks in the letter that these essential workers receive prioritized access to protective items like facemasks, gloves, face shields and gowns in order to conduct on-site visits. He also asks that they be classified as Level 1 emergency responders along with other essential health care and public health workers.  Read the letter »

Tool for Advance Care Planning During COVID-19 from AMDA
Advance care planning, when rendered with patient-centered care, advocates the patient’s wishes in medical decision making. Because of the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic for residents of Post-Acute and Long Term Care settings and their families, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long Term Care has created an Advance Care Plan (ACP) Tool.  See the tool »

CMS Issues Press Release on Nursing Home Residents' Right to Retain Their Stimulus Checks
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a press release on June 11th asserting nursing home residents' right to retain Federal Economic Incentive Payments (or "Stimulus Checks").  The press release states that the practice of nursing homes taking the checks "is prohibited, and nursing homes that seize these payments from residents could be subject to federal enforcement actions, including potential termination from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs." Read the press release »

Webinar Materials Available

COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents - Part X

The landscape of COVID-19 response in nursing homes continues to evolve rapidly at the federal and state levels. This webinar series from Consumer Voice, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Long Term Care Community Coalition focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care facilities and its residents. The June 26th webinar covered: CMS guidance on reporting of staffing data; Preparing comments on interim rule on reporting requirements; Reuniting residents and families, with state experiences in Ohio and West Virginia; and the new CMS FAQs.  See materials from all of the webinars in the series »

Ombudsman Program Communication and Advocacy During COVID-19

In-person visitation restrictions intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19 required Ombudsman programs to adapt quickly to ensure residents have access to program services. In-person visits with residents are a core part of Ombudsman program outreach and advocacy and there is no substitute for that connection and experience. However, during this crisis, programs must use other means to connect with residents to provide information and respond to complaints. During this webinar presenters shared state and local examples of how to they are communicating with residents to make sure their experiences are heard and concerns are addressed.

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