Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace (D-Lancaster) announced that legislation she co-sponsored to provide for compassionate care visitations at nursing homes during public health emergencies has taken effect today. The new law (A1052B) would ensure that loved ones be permitted to visit nursing home residents during public health emergencies by allowing residents to designate one or two individuals as personal caregivers. Those personal caregivers would be exempt from general prohibitions on personal visitations during any local or state public health emergency.
“One of the hardest lessons of the pandemic was how critical it is to allow family members into nursing homes to check on their loved ones and to help ensure residents were receiving appropriate care,” said Assemblymember Wallace. “This law ensures that in any future public health crisis, nursing home residents can receive vital care and emotional support from one or two loved ones who are identified as designated caregivers. These compassionate care visits benefit staff, residents, and their loved ones, while maintaining best practices for infection control among vulnerable populations.”
Designated personal caregivers would help nursing home staff provide care for residents, including feeding, dressing, bathing, communication and emotional support. By doing so, personal caregivers will help support nursing home staff and help combat isolation, depression, cognitive decline, and other issues that affected many nursing home residents during the pandemic. Additionally, to keep residents and staff safe, all personal caregivers would be required to follow the same infection control protocols as staff members, such as temperature checks, health screenings, use of masks and PPE, and testing for communicable diseases.
Assemblymember Wallace is a strong and longtime advocate for better care and conditions in nursing homes. She has supported numerous bills to improve the quality of care at nursing homes, including introducing and passing legislation (A7022) to extend the ombudsman program, which creates a system of volunteers who visit nursing homes and help residents and family members resolve complaints. In addition, Assemblymember Wallace sponsored and recently passed legislation (A6222) to ensure that residents and their families are informed of the ombudsman program by requiring that informational fliers are posted in every resident’s room and translated into the six most common non-English languages in the state.
“The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is a vital resource for addressing nursing home complaints, raising alarm on issues related to long-term care, and helping residents understand and exercise their rights,” said Assemblymember Wallace. “In order to be fully effective, residents and their loved ones need to know that this essential program is available. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this vital legislation to help ensure that all nursing home residents receive the care that they need and deserve.”