Nursing Homes Can Designate ‘Essential Caregivers’ to Visit

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesotans will be allowed to visit family members in senior living centers under new guidance Friday from state health officials that loosen restrictions in place for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minnesota Department of Health said long-term care facilities will be able to designate family members or others as essential caregivers for residents of such facilities. That will give them expanded access to their loved ones.

COVID-19 has been most devastating to Minnesota’s senior residents, with almost 78 percent of the state’s 1,495 deaths in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

The state says an essential caregiver could be a family member, outside caregiver, friend, or volunteer who provided regular care and support to the resident before or during the pandemic. Residents can have more than one.

The state’s guidelines call for facilities to establish procedures to determine who is designated an essential caregiver, with those who are approved able to spend up to three hours per day with their loved one.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state knows that guarding against deadly disease is only part of what makes up quality care in long-term care facilities.

“We all recognize how important it is to ensure that the social and emotional needs of residents continue to be met,” Malcolm said in a statement.

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