Making the Case for Compassionate Care Visits in Long Term Care Facilities

With in-person visitation continuing to be restricted in long term care facilities due to the corona virus pandemic. One of the ways that family members may still be allowed to visit their loved ones during a facility outbreak is through compassionate care visits.

Compassionate care visits are special visits in which a family member or other visitor provides comfort, support, and/or assistance to a resident whose well-being is suffering or at risk, or who is dying. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has developed guidance that provides some examples of situations when compassionate care visits should be permitted. These include:

• A resident who is at the end of life.

• A resident, who was living with their family before recently being admitted to a nursing home, is struggling with the change in environment and lack of physical family support.

• A resident who is grieving after a friend or family member recently passed away.

• A resident who needs cueing and encouragement with eating or drinking, previously provided by family and/or caregiver(s), is experiencing weight loss or dehydration.

• A resident, who used to talk and interact with others, is experiencing emotional distress, seldom speaking, or crying more frequently (when the resident had rarely cried in the past).

However, these are just examples. Compassionate care visits are not limited only to these situations. There are many other circumstances that would also qualify. Facilities are directed to identify the need for such visits using a person-centered approach and by working with residents, families, resident representatives, and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

CMS does not indicate exactly when a compassionate care visit can be conducted. The agency only states that end of life and the four examples listed above meet the intent of “compassionate care situations.” This gives residents of long term care facilities and their families a great deal of flexibility in making the case for why one should receive these visits.

As such, the national consumer voice has created this handout to help individuals and families help make their case for why their needs may constitute the necessity of compassionate care visits.

Also, if you would like assistance in advocating for compassionate care visits you can also reach out to the Connecticut Long Term Care Ombudsman Program by calling Telephone: 1-866-1888