Late Wednesday, CMS released an alert regarding the holidays, which promise to tempt both residents and staff to attend family gatherings. Aside from offering innovative ways to celebrate without gathering, CMS recommends continuing to closely follow visitation guidelines and adhering to the core principles of infection prevention.

  • Remain six feet or more apart
  • Wear a face covering
  • Limit number of visitors at any one time

For residents (and staff) who leave senior homes for family gatherings, proactively provide this checklist of CMS/CDC recommendations, which is also summarized below.

  • Limit close contact; keep gatherings as small as possible, and use technology to engage with others remotely
  • Wear facemasks or cloth face covering at all times – including in cars, homes, restaurants, etc.
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items
  • Avoid communal serving utensils, passing of food, potluck or buffet style food service; opt for individually prepared plates by a single server
  • Perform hand hygiene often  
  • Avoid large gatherings, crowded areas, and high-risk activities – including singing
  • Avoid contact with those who've left their homes 14 days prior to the gathering
  • Ask anyone with symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19 to not attend 
  • Opt for outdoor gatherings; if indoors, ensure good ventilation – open windows/doors
  • Verbally greet others instead of shaking hands or giving hugs
  • Check local/state precautions and restrictions, including positivity rates and quarantine requirements, before crossing state lines

When residents return, CMS recommends that senior caregivers:

  • Screen and increase monitoring for signs and symptoms
  • Test for COVID-19 and place resident on transmission-based precautions (TBP) if:
    • Signs or symptoms are present
    • Resident or family reports possible exposure
    • Resident leaves frequently or for a prolonged time (24 hours or more)

As the COVID wrench throws itself into our holiday traditions, remember, a little bit of proactivity can go a long way. Remind residents and staff of these proven recommendations – and be safe out there.

We remain incredibly grateful to you for providing continued care and protection to community residents during this challenging time.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to all of you!