Florida nursing homes ask for patience as new policies are put in place for visitors

Each resident assigned dedicated family caregiver

It’s been about a week since Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order allowing visitors into nursing homes in Florida once again. Central Florida assisted living facilities are changing their policies to keep their residents safe.

Administrators at Certus said they’ve already allowed some families visit their loved ones. To make sure everyone is safe, visitors are treated like staff members when they show up.

It’s all part of their new internal procedures brought on by the governor’s orders to reopen nursing homes to visitors.

“Visitors will get an Oximeter reading, temperature reading and screening," said Joshua Freitas Vice President of Program Development.

Certus facilities will test staff and visitors as much as possible on a two-week cycle "to make sure we avoid bringing the virus into our communities,” Freitas said.

As part of the governor’s order, each resident will have a designated essential caregiver; a loved one who can help bathe, dress and provide emotional support. Other visitors will have to maintain social distancing.

While limiting visitors may help prevent the spread of the virus to the most vulnerable, Freitas said human contact is crucial. During the restrictions put in place due to the pandemic, families were only able to visit if their loved one was in hospice care.

“We had a resident later stages of dementia, hospice palliative care. After one visit, we saw her prop up, eat more and starting to participate. Just a few days later we’re starting to see her engaging,” said Freitas.

In the last six months, Freitas said Certus has been creative at its three Central Florida locations. Families visiting their loved ones outside their window, hosting virtual meets and families sending cards and letters.

He is urging families to be patient as they navigate new standards and procedures to keep their residents safe.

“It takes a village when it comes to reintroducing the visits and really working together with the community... also giving your input and being open to the community’s input. It will only be successful if we all work together,” said Freitas.

Certus said it will continue contacting families the rest of the week and plans to have a schedule in place for visitations by Monday. They are staggering family visits to keep the number of people in the facility low.

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