Van Wey, Metzler & Williams

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Nursing Homes During COVID-19: Resources and Questions to Ask

During the last few months, nursing homes across the country have witnessed thousands of coronavirus-related deaths. As we’ve watched these numbers climb over the past few weeks, multiple news outlets have reached out to VWPW Founder & Partner Kay Van Wey for her insight on what families with loved ones living in nursing homes can do to be more pro-active in caring for them.

 Below are the resources Kay recommends to those who are trying to learn more about what steps they can take during this time in order to ensure their loved one is in a safe and healthy environment. 

Self-assessment Surveys

CMS urges facilities to complete the Self-Assessment Tool to help ensure the facility is prepared to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Facilities are expected to perform a voluntary self-assessment of their ability to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. This document may be requested by surveyors if an onsite investigation takes place. Nursing Homes are also encouraged to voluntarily share the results of this assessment with their state or local health department Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Program. 

Facilities are required to have a system of surveillance designed to identify possible communicable diseases or infections before they can spread to other persons in the facility, and when and to whom possible incidents of communicable disease or infections should be reported. Generally, Nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid are required by federal law to undergo an annual survey and certification process by its state’s health department. 

CMS will continue posting survey results on the CMS Nursing Home Compare Website, but it will refrain from incorporating targeted survey results into a facility’s star rating. Instead, LTCFs will be scored and rated based on surveys conducted prior to March 4, 2020.

Questions to Consider and Ask a Facility 

  • How many positive cases has that facility had? How many are active? How many deaths? 

  • What are the procedures and protocols in place? 

    • What do they do about PPE or staffing shortages? 

    • What happens when a resident test positive? Where do they go? Are infected residents isolated? 

    • What are their screening procedures?

  • How are gaps in care being managed now that family members are restricted from visiting?

Residents’ and Families’ Rights to Remove

 Residents always have a right to leave a facility. In fact, it is unlawful for a facility to detain or stop a resident from leaving (see residents’ rights under CMS).

If a resident has tested positive for COVID-19, you should look to local or state guidance for rights around a resident leaving the facility they have been living in. The same goes for a resident leaving a facility that has had positive COVID cases. 


For more information about regarding nursing homes please review the following resources: 

By: Kay Van Wey | April 27th, 2020

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