CHA News

CMS Issues Updated Skilled-Nursing Facility Guidance on Visitation, Surveys

For COOs, skilled-nursing facility leaders, compliance officers, licensing & certification staff

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Clinical Standards and Quality has issued important updates to guidance for skilled-nursing facilities (SNFs).   

Quality Safety and Oversight memorandum 20-39-NH addresses limitations to visitation that have been implemented in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. In the new guidance, CMS addresses the impact of the COVID-19 vaccination, and communicates that visitation is now allowed for all residents at all times and that facilities can no longer limit the frequency and length of visits for residents, the number of visitors, or require advance scheduling of visits. 

CMS also notes that all visits should be conducted in a manner that adheres to the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention and does not increase risk to other residents. The memo includes additional information and suggestions for outdoor and indoor visitation, and visitor screening. Facilities are advised to contact their local health authorities for guidance or direction on how to structure their visitation to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

QSO-22-02 communicates changes to COVID-19 survey activities and increased oversight for SNFs. In this updated guidance, CMS announces steps to assist state survey agencies in addressing the backlog of complaint and recertification surveys, including revising the criteria for conducting COVID-19 focused infection control surveys, guidance for resuming recertification surveys, and temporary guidance and minor flexibilities related to complaint investigations. CMS also notes that it is increasing oversight in nursing homes to allow a more focused review of quality-of-life and quality-of-care concerns. 

CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are holding a national nursing home stakeholder call on Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to noon (PT) to provide an overview of recently released guidance and address trending questions. Participants are asked to register in advance.