Sen. Lombardi to introduce bill to give family caregivers access to residents in nursing homes during pandemic
STATE HOUSE — As COVID-19 continues to tragically separate nursing home residents from their families, one state senator, Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), plans to introduce legislation that would give family members access to their loved ones in nursing homes during emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill would mandate that long-term care facilities establish an Essential Family Caregiver program that would allow a resident to have an essential caregiver designated. The caregiver would be a person such as a family member, outside caregiver, friend, or volunteer who provided regular care and support to the resident prior to the pandemic; and that person would be given more access to the resident on a regular basis to ensure their emotional and physical needs are met.
“It’s a tragedy that nursing home residents — particularly those suffering from dementia — continue to be separated from their families,” said Senator Lombardi. “It’s frustrating and infuriating that the social and psychological well-being of these residents is in jeopardy because they are unable to communicate with those they love. They may be safe from coronavirus, but they’re inflicted with a debilitating loneliness.”
In the legislation Senator Lombardi plans to propose, a person may request to designate more than one essential caregiver based on their past involvement and needs. The bill would require the Department of Health to develop rules and regulations on designating an essential caregiver and the criteria to qualify.
Seven states, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, South Dakota and Michigan, currently have a variation of such a designation that would allow visitation during COVID-19 restrictions.