Veterans Home Family Visitation Resource Guide
The following guidance is provided by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to support long-term care facility efforts to balance the need to protect Residents from COVID-19, ensure healthy social and emotional connections with family and friends, and limit the unintended harm of social isolation during the ongoing pandemic.
This guidance sets forth a cautious and measured process that we have used to determine the most appropriate visitation policy to protect our Residents and staff. It may be necessary to dial back visitations depending on the current community transmission rates or the presence of the virus in the facility.
Following is a summary of various visits provided at the Minnesota Veterans Homes. We ask for your patience and consideration, and to collaborate with your care team to determine the visit that is most appropriate and therapeutic for your loved one. Please coordinate with your loved one’s care team to schedule a visit with your loved one. Our care teams will be able to match you with the most appropriate visit based on vaccination status, care needs, COVID-19 positivity in the home or community, and each person’s comfort level.
Please respect our responsibility for the safety and well-being of your loved one and consider the visit that provides the least amount of infection control risk and follows the Core Principles of COVID-19 Prevention:
- Screening of all who enter the facility for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Denial of entry of anyone who has symptoms.
- Hand Hygiene
- Face Covering and Masks
- Social Distancing
- Instructional signage throughout the facility and proper visitor education
- Cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces
- Appropriate staff use of PPE
- Effective cohorting of Residents
- Resident and Staff Testing
- Physical barriers to prevent spread of infection
Visitation should be person-centered and consider the Resident’s physical, mental and psychosocial wellbeing and support their quality of life. Visits including children or pets will be reviewed by the Home leadership team and guided on a case-by-case basis with recommendations that those visits occur outdoors. Education will be provided to visitors regarding the risk of COVID-19 exposure by including children and pets in the visit.
If a Minnesota Veterans Home moves into an outbreak status, visits may be required to change or stop. We will communicate changes to our procedures in a variety of methods.
The Minnesota Veterans Homes have been facilitating technology or iPad visits since mid-March 2020. We encourage you to work with your care team to schedule frequent and regular communication in this way. These visits allow you to see and chat with your loved one in the safest way. If you need assistance with technology, please contact your care team. There are numerous organizations that are providing technology to families in their homes who may be without.
All Minnesota Veterans Homes have window visits available. Each Home has designated areas for safe window visits, especially for facilities that are multiple floors, have double occupancy rooms with a shared window, or challenging access to a window. Protocols in place for window visits include:
- Window visits must be scheduled in advance.
- Please contact your care team to schedule a window visit.
Expanded and Outdoor Visits
Because the Minnesota Veterans Homes have achieved high rates of participation in COVID-19 vaccinations, low to no active COVID cases among Residents and staff, and low community COVID rates, we have begun to open our doors in a thoughtful and responsible way for expanded visits.
Our intent is to provide Residents the opportunity to have additional social and therapeutic interactions that support their wellbeing. Expanded visits include family members and friends who are not currently registered as an “Essential Caregiver.”
Expanded visits are best facilitated as pre-scheduled visits, adhering to PPE recommendations and infection control protocols, and will occur in a designated area of the facility.
Expanded visits may be stopped quickly with limited notice due to COVID-19 exposure and increased community transmission rates. When possible, outdoor visitation is encouraged to decrease the risk of virus spread.
Essential Caregiver Visits
Each Minnesota Veterans Home has a facility operational procedure for Essential Caregiver Visits. Essential Caregiver visits will generally be limited to a 30 to 60-minute visit. Because of our current staffing and our ability to provide direct hands-on care to our Residents, the primary purpose for Essential Caregiver visits is to provide emotional support to the Resident. Essential Caregiver visits will take place in a designated area of the facility. Essential Caregivers are vetted by the home’s leadership teams.
Each Minnesota Veterans Home has an operational procedure for compassion visits. Compassion visits are designed to provide emotional support to the Resident. Compassion visits are not limited to end-of-life circumstances. Compassion visits are typically not routine nor regularly scheduled appointments, compared to the Essential Caregiver visits, and occur when clinically appropriate.
End of Life Visits
Each Minnesota Veterans Home has in place an operational procedure for End of Life Visits. End of Life Visits are important for both the Resident and the family.