Long-term care facilities
We are protecting residents and healthcare workers through COVID-19 vaccination.
How does the Utah Department of Health support long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) provides long-term care facilities with federal funding to be used for rapid antigen testing machines and test kits. This funding comes from the Skilled Nursing Facility Infection Control Relief Fund.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services also plans to distribute another $2 billion to long-term care facilities throughout the country. This funding will be based upon performance indicators; the performance indicators are expected to be shared at a later time.
“I put out an intent to vaccinate last week and people were pretty freaked out by it. But it gave them time to think about it. I rolled out actual consent yesterday and everyone has consented so far!!!! We’ve been pumping it up in our community. I put up flyers with pictures of our staff in full PPE and #getvaccinated. We have a q/a zoom for staff with our medical director this afternoon.”
-The Auberge at Aspen Park
We understand you and your loved ones are eager for life to return to normal. Vaccination is a critical step toward this goal, but it will still take some time before things are completely safe for your loved ones in long-term care facilities. COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective, but until more people are able to, and choose to get vaccinated, there is still a risk of COVID-19 spread in our long-term care facilities.
People’s bodies respond differently to vaccines. Some may not have as strong of an immune response as others and this is especially true for older adults, who may experience lower effectiveness with any vaccine. We simply don’t know yet how well the COVID-19 vaccines will protect people who are more frail or older, but we will learn more quickly as more and more people are vaccinated. Variants of the virus are beginning to emerge that may be easier to spread. This can leave facilities vulnerable to continued outbreaks and this is why it is still important to continue to take extra precautions in long-term care facilities.
Residents of long-term care facilities are some of our most vulnerable community members. While the rest of society will be getting back to normal more quickly after vaccination, the choices we make as a community impact the safety of our loved ones in long-term care facilities. Long-term care facility residents most commonly get infected when someone brings the virus into the facility. This means that right now, the visitor guidance and other important protections for long-term care facility residents have not changed, even if both the resident and their loved ones are vaccinated. As we vaccinate more people and reduce risk in the entire community, we expect restrictions in long-term care facilities to decrease. It will take every Utahn to protect our most cherished loved ones in long-term care facilities. Together we will get back to normal.
If you, or a family member, live in a long-term care facility, talk to the facility or your employer to find out how to get vaccinated.
4 things you need to know if you are visiting loved ones during the pandemic
If you’re visiting loved ones in long-term care facilities, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead. Visits with family members are important to our residents, especially around the holidays. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve implemented increased safety precautions and procedures for staff and visitors, to keep residents safe. Our goal is to keep residents as safe as possible during holiday visits.
Remember, you are not the only visitor to the facility.
These safety precautions are in place for everyone, to protect your loved ones and the people who care for your loved ones.
Guidance for Visitors and Leaves of Absence in Assisted Living Facilities
Guidance for Visitors and Leaves of Absence in Nursing Facilities
For families with loved ones in a long-term care facility
Long-term care facilities care for some of the most vulnerable people in our state. We understand how important in-person visits with family members are to our residents. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve implemented increased safety precautions and procedures for staff and visitors, to keep residents safe.
We understand the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on residents’ mental health and well-being. Residents in long-term care facilities have been isolated from visitors and activities. This has left many people feeling lonely, isolated, and depressed.
Our goal is to make sure our residents get to see their families as much as possible. We can’t do that without your help. Taking steps in your daily life to keep yourself from being exposed to COVID-19 and following the facility’s safety precautions and procedures are the best things you can do to protect your loved ones.
We know this year has been frustrating and heartbreaking for you and your loved ones. But we can keep your family members safe and get through this if we all work together.
This guidance is to help long-term care facilities take steps to make sure residents get to see their families, while keeping everyone safe.
DO NOT visit a long-term care facility if:
- You are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
- You tested positive for COVID-19 and have not been released from isolation.
- Were told you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14-days, even if you test negative after your exposure. You must finish your 14-day quarantine before you can visit family members in long-term care facilities.
Long-term care facilities include:
- Assisted living facilities
- Intermediate care facilities
- Nursing and skilled nursing facilities
What is a leave of absence?
This guidance is for nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
We do not recommend residents leave the facility for any non-essential reasons, including family matters. An essential leave of absence is a health-related visit. Any leave of absence must follow state mandates and facility guidelines.
Your family members who live in long-term care facilities do not live in your home. Right now, we do not recommend someone who lives in a long-term care facility attend a gathering.
The more people from different households a person interacts with at a gathering, the closer the physical interaction is, and the longer the interaction lasts, the higher the risk that a person who has COVID-19 may spread it to others, whether he or she has symptoms or not.
The safest gathering is with those who live in your home. If you choose to proceed with a gathering, think about how you can reduce the spread of COVID-19 to loved ones outside of your home.
If you choose to include a resident of a long-term care facility in a gathering, you should take extra precautions.
Follow these tips to keep your loved ones safer. https://coronavirus.utah.gov/holidays/
Do visitors to long-term care facilities need to get tested for COVID-19?
Getting tested for COVID-19 before you visit loved ones in a long-term care facility is a good way to know you’re keeping them safe. However, sometimes a negative test result gives people a false sense of security. A negative test result doesn’t mean you won’t ever get sick with COVID-19. It means you probably did not have the virus at the time of your test. You still need to take safety precautions before and after you get tested. Wear a mask, wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water, and physical distance as much as possible. This is especially important for people planning to visit loved ones in a higher-risk living environment like a long-term care facility.
Important things to remember about COVID-19 testing:
- COVID-19 has a long incubation period. You can still get the virus up to 14 days after being exposed.
- You can be exposed to COVID-19 right before or after you get tested, so make sure you still wear a mask and physical distance.
- Rapid antigen tests work best for people who have symptoms of COVID-19. Antigen tests work best when someone has symptoms of COVID-19 or when a person has high amounts of virus in their body. Because of this, even if you test negative with an antigen test, you may still be infected and you may be able to transmit the virus to others. That’s why it is important for you to take other precautions like wearing a mask if you plan to visit a loved one. If you don’t have symptoms but test positive with a rapid antigen test, you should have a confirmatory PCR test within 24-48 hours. You should isolate and not go visit your loved ones until you have your PRC test results back.
It is not required, but we encourage facilities located in counties where the COVID-19 positivity rate is 5% or greater to test visitors, if possible.
- The facility may ask you to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before your visit. It is important to follow any safety precautions or procedures the facility asks of you. Remember, you are not the only visitor to the facility. These safety precautions are in place for everyone, to protect your loved ones.
Alternatives to in-person visits
There may be times it is unsafe to allow visitors into the facility. In these situations, it is important to find other ways for you to visit with your loved ones. If the facility can’t allow visitors, you may be asked to use other ways to visit, such as:
- Virtual communication(phone, video-communication, etc.).
- Email, text, or phone updates from the facility
Remember, if you regularly visit someone in a long-term care facility, limit your close contact (within 6 feet or 2 meters) of people who don’t live in your home as much as you can in your daily life, especially indoors. COVID-19 spreads very easily, do everything you can to prevent exposing your loved ones to the virus.This will also help you feel confident that you haven’t been exposed after a negative test result.
COVID-19 guidance for long-term care facilities
COVID-19 guidance for long-term care facilities, including:
- Assisted living facilities
- Intermediate care facilities
- Nursing and skilled nursing facilities
Infection prevention and control
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Cleaning and disinfecting resources
Recommendations for how to manage staff during COVID
Assessment form for screening and isolation procedures when transferring patients from hospitals to LTCF or HHA
Dedicated COVID-19 nursing facilities
Transferring patients from hospitals to long-term care facilities
Transferring patients home with home care or hospice
Vaccinations in long-term care facilities video
What should we do if there is a positive case of COVID-19 at our long-term care facility?
- If an employee tests positive, he or she should not come to work until released from isolation. If a resident tests positive, the resident should stay in his or her room until released from isolation. The resident should be placed on contact and droplet precautions.
- Stop group activities and communal dining, except for residents who need supervision and assistance with meals.
- Residents who were exposed to the person who tested positive should quarantine in their rooms for 14 days from their last close contact exposure with the person who tested positive (within 6 feet). Residents should wear a face mask when they are in close contact with healthcare workers, even in their rooms. If residents must leave their rooms, ask them to wear a mask.
- Report positive cases of COVID-19 to the UDOH Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) team at HAI@utah.gov. The HAI team will follow up with you within 24 hours to provide you with clinical consultation guidance.
How are rapid antigen tests being used in long-term care facilities?
Rapid antigen tests were validated to be used for diagnostic testing, not for screening testing. However, there are certain circumstances in which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows antigen tests to be used for screening testing. This is referred to as “off-label” use. People who work or live in congregate care settings, like a long-term care facility, may need to get tested more often because there is such a high chance of COVID-19 spreading in these environments. Repeated use of antigen testing may be a more time and cost effective strategy to control the spread of the virus in these settings rather than waiting for the results of a PCR test.
Rapid antigen tests can detect only high amounts of virus and are less sensitive than PCR tests. They work best when someone has symptoms of COVID-19 (symptomatic). Antigen tests are most accurate during the first 5-7 days of the illness when the viral load is highest. If the person being tested had symptoms of COVID-19 but the test result was negative, it may be a false negative test result. This means the antigen test did not identify the virus, but he or she does actually have COVID-19.
When antigen testing is used to test people who don’t have symptoms (asymptomatic) there is a higher chance of having a false positive result. This means the person’s test result was positive but he or she does not actually have COVID-19.