Florida Nursing Home and ALF Visitation Rights

Elder Law
Jason Neufeld
November 25, 2020

The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) created a Committee to address and summarize Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility visitation rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This update is effective as of November 2020. These rules are subject to change.

Florida Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Visitation Rights

Guests to these facilities are categorized as either: Compassionate Care Visitor or a General Visitor:

Compassionate Care Visitor: Do you provide emotional support, help with difficult or upsetting transition or loss for your loved one living in a facility? Are you assisting, encouraging or cueing with eating/drinking? Are you a support for your loved one who may be experiencing emotional distress or decline? If you are any of these things to your loved one, you qualify as a COMPASSIONATE CARE VISITOR (CCV).  It is not necessary for Compassionate Care Visitors to be included in a Care Plan or Service Plan. 

This gives your loved one the right to have you visit (INCLUDING SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES) and to have physical contact. CCV'S must be permitted to visit even after normal business hours and on weekends. In addition, your visits must be permitted regardless of community positivity rates, or facility covid cases.

General Visitors: All other non-CC visitors are allowed to have socially distant visitation. If there are COVID cases in the facility or in a 10%+ positivity rate in the facility community, that general, non-CCV visit may still take place outside, so long as compliance with safety precautions is maintained.  Children can now visit also, so long as they are properly monitored.  Clergy, attorneys, more casual visitors may now visit facility residents.

Holiday Leave: Residents may leave facilities, including overnight, but will be screened and possibly quarantined, based on screening upon their return.**  There is no duration restriction, but mask wearing and social distancing is required during their time away.

As we plan to take this opportunity to visit our loved ones, we need to take extra care not to expose them to the Covid-19 virus, or others in the facilities.  Be prepared for your visit and plan ahead! While facilities have become more accessible for visitation, new requirements and rules are in place to make visits safer.  See below.  

What to Expect When You Visit Your Loved One   

  1. Call and schedule a specific time for your visit.  This is required.  Ask specifically what door you should enter, or where you can meet with your loved one outside.  Confirm how long you can plan to visit.
  2. Bring your mask with you and wear it properly.  A surgical mask is needed if the visit is inside the building, and for all CCVs.  A cloth mask is fine for an outdoor visit.  The facility may provide a surgical mask, but are not required to do so.  Come prepared.
  3. Be prepared to have your temperature taken, answer questions regarding any signs or symptoms of COVID you may have and disclose if you have had any exposure to a positive COVID person within the last 14 days.  If you do have a fever, have any symptoms, or have had exposure you will not be allowed to visit. 
  4. Training may be required on visitation policies, infection prevention and control, and proper use of PPE.  You may need to sign confirmation of receiving the training and receipt of the facilities policies.  Your visit will be documented in the event contact tracing is needed.
  5. Visits outside require continuous mask use and social distancing (6 ft.).  Compassionate Care Visits inside require continuous wearing of a surgical mask, however social distancing is not required, but these visits may be limited.  

**The AHCA (Agency for Healthcare Administration- Florida) and CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services- Federal) appear to differ on facility departure and quarantine requirements upon return.  We highly recommend contacting your facility to learn more about their requirements and screening before planning to remove your loved one from the facility. 

Assistance Paying for Nursing Home or ALF Care

If you need assistance paying for skilled nursing facility or assisted living facility (or home care) bills anywhere in Florida, please contact us to discuss how Medicaid Planning can help. This article discusses various ways to pay for nursing home, ALF or home care.

Additional Resources:

https://ahca.myflorida.com/docs/AHCA_E-Blast_LTC_Facility_Visitation_Expectations.pdf

https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-39-nh.pdf

Jason Neufeld
Jason is committed to assisting and protecting the most vulnerable members of society, through his substantial legal work with the elderly.