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February 8, 2022

In this Issue:

  1. Materials Available from Consumer Voice and ACL Webinar for Families on Safe Visitation Through Boosters
  2. Updates from CMS and CDC: Further Clarification of Visitation Guidance; Addition to Definitions of Vaccination Status; and More
  3. Consumer Voice Executive Director Writes Article on Staffing in Long-Term Care Facilities
  4. Presentation: Troubling Trends in Antipsychotic Drug Usage and Schizophrenia Diagnoses Among Nursing Home Residents

Materials Available from Consumer Voice and ACL Webinar for Families on Safe Visitation Through Boosters

Materials are available from last Friday's webinar from Consumer Voice and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) on Safe Visitation Through Boosters.  The conversation focused on how COVID-19 boosters support safe visitation in long-term care facilities and the importance of promoting family connections for long-term care residents.

Get the recording and materials.

Updates from CMS and CDC: Further Clarification of Visitation Guidance; Addition to Definitions of Vaccination Status; and More

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made updates to their COVID-19 guidance.

On February 2, 2022, CMS updated their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which clarify their November 2021 revised Nursing Home Visitation Guidance.  They continue to emphasize that visitation must be permitted at all times, in accordance with residents’ rights, with very limited and rare exceptions.   

Important updates include:

  • States may require visitors to be tested prior to entering a facility;  the facility must provide the rapid test to the visitor.  Visitors are not responsible for obtaining a test, and if the facility does not provide a rapid test, visitors cannot be required to test before entering.  Visitors must be allowed to enter if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms or meet the criteria for quarantine (e.g., a positive COVID-19 test result).  
  • CMS suggests best practices for improving air quality during visitation.  Facilities can employ multiple strategies to manage airflow, and funding is available to facilities for environmental changes to reduce COVID-19 transmission.  Facilities can request up to $3000 of Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment funds to purchase portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters and portable fans to increase and improve air quality.   

Read the full FAQs.

Additionally, while the CDC describes fully vaccinated as having completed the first series of COVID-19 vaccines, it has added a definition for being “up to date” with  COVID-19 vaccines.  A person is “up to date” with their vaccinations when they have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any boosters for which they are eligible.

This new definition impacts who is required to quarantine in healthcare settings, according to the CDC.  Quarantine is now recommended for patients who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 if they are not “up to date” with their COVID-19 vaccine doses – unless they have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.

Learn more on the CDC's website.

Updated CDC guidance also emphasizes that older adults in congregate settings are at high risk of illnesses such as COVID-19 and that it is critical to have a strong infection prevention and control program to protect residents and health care workers.   For more information, visit the CDC's website.

Consumer Voice Executive Director Writes Article on Staffing in Long-Term Care Facilities

Consumer Voice Executive Director Lori Smetanka wrote an article for American Society on Aging's Generations on the staffing crisis in long-term care facilities and how it affects residents.  In the article, she makes recommendations for how to improve care and working conditions.

Read the article, "Solving the Long-Term Care Facility Crisis."

Learn more about staffing in long-term care facilities on our issue page.

Presentation: Troubling Trends in Antipsychotic Drug Usage and Schizophrenia Diagnoses Among Nursing Home Residents

More than a decade after the creation of a federal campaign to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs with nursing home residents living with dementia, and strengthened federal protections for residents around their use, newly released data shows usage rates are rising, particularly during the pandemic. Additional reports and studies show that schizophrenia diagnoses among nursing home residents - one of three diagnoses where antipsychotic use is not included in reported rates - has also been steadily increasing, particularly among Black residents.

This past November, at the Consumer Voice Conference, experts Shekinah Fashaw-Walters, Assistant Professor, Division of Health Policy & Management at the School of Public Health at University of Minnesota and Kelly Bagby, Vice President for Litigation for Health, Hunger, Housing and Human Services at AARP Foundation discussed what could be contributing to the reported increased rates of antipsychotic use in nursing homes and identified strategies for recognizing and addressing these troubling trends.

Watch their presentation, "Troubling Trends in Antipsychotic Drug Usage and Schizophrenia Diagnoses Among Nursing Home Residents."

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