Outdoor Visitation Guidance for Nursing Homes

DHS Logo Original 07/11/2018

Division of Quality Assurance: Notifications & Updates

Attn: Wisconsin Nursing Home Providers

Outdoor Visitation Guidance for Nursing Homes

The safest approach to prevent COVID-19 exposure to nursing home residents and staff is to not conduct indoor or outdoor visitation. However, if an organization wishes to proceed with outdoor visitation, please see the recommendations for safer outdoor visits.

Nursing homes may choose to wait longer before implementing outdoor visitation. Because the pandemic is affecting communities in different ways, facilities should use their best clinical judgement, regularly monitor the factors for outdoor visitation, work with local and tribal public health departments, and adjust their plans accordingly.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recognizes that the effects of isolation can have serious impact on the health and well-being of residents in nursing homes. This guidance contains recommendations that we strongly encourage nursing homes to follow and implement.

To prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provided direction related to restricting visitation. See CMS QSO-20-14-NH. .

Facilities that meet the criteria and elect to permit outdoor visits must make this option available to all residents unless they believe:

  1. Circumstances pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the facility because the resident or visitor does not comply with infection prevention and control guidance, or
  2. The resident or visitor is at risk of abuse/harm.

Residents and their loved ones may contact providers with questions about outdoor visits. Facilities should ensure residents, and their loved ones, have access to the Ombudsman Program at the Board on Aging and Long Term Care at 1-800-815-0015.