Calls for devices to be installed in nursing homes to help 'maintain relationships'

To the Editor:

More than 22,000 Connecticut residents live in nursing homes.

Since this population is more susceptible to coronavirus, the Connecticut Department of Public Health has appropriately prohibited visitation at nursing homes except in special circumstances, however these restrictions are upsetting for residents, their loved ones, and employees.

These restrictions are upsetting for residents, their loved ones and employees.

To keep nursing home residents safe during this emergency, there are additional steps the state and nursing homes could take to help residents stay connected to their loved ones during this time of separation.

The governor’s office and the Department of Public Health could require nursing homes to offer and facilitate reasonable alternative means of communication for individuals who can no longer visit their loved ones in person.

Nursing home residents are currently unable to install video cameras in their rooms.

This is a huge barrier for caregivers and loved ones who want to monitor a resident’s condition, particularly true when a resident is non-verbal, has dementia, or is unable to communicate by phone or email.

Social isolation and loneliness have negative consequences for people’s mental and physical health; to those who live in nursing homes as well as their loved ones living alone in the community.

Allowing installation of cameras and other communication devices will maintain relationships that benefit everyone involved.

These connections are critical during this national emergency.

As a Resident Advocate (volunteer) with the Connecticut State Ombudsman office, I understand this real need.

I urge the Governor and other policymakers to take action soon to help nursing home residents stay connected to their loved ones.

Kathy L. Null

AARP Advocacy Volunteer