The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that nursing home residents who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are free to hug and enjoy indoor visits with friends and family.
“If the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and performing hand hygiene before and after,” said CMS in its new guidance.
“CMS recognizes the psychological, emotional, and physical toll that prolonged isolation and separation from family have taken on nursing home residents, and their families,” said Dr. Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. “There is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one,” added CMS, empathizing with seniors who have experienced immense loneliness due to isolation in order to stay safe in the pandemic.
Precautions still in place
While both hugs and physical touch are allowed again for residents who have been fully vaccinated, precautions like wearing masks and using hand sanitizer remain in place as a counterbalance to risk. CMS also emphasized that maintaining 6 feet of separation is still the safest policy, and outdoor visits are the safest option for spending long periods of time with loved ones even when residents and visitors have been vaccinated.
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