‘A huge missing piece’: Nursing home excited to start indoor visits again

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After months without regular visitation, nursing homes are now able to welcome back family and friends for indoor visits.

Excited is an understatement for the facilities. The owner of one assisted living facility in Wilmington says the ability to have indoor visits now will help give their residents a slice of normalcy.

“It won’t be normal normal for a long time,” Coastal Cove Assisted Living Owner Justin LuQuire said. “But the families coming back, that in itself has been a huge missing piece across the board. They live for that. They live for lunch and they live for their family.”

LuQuire says the ease of visitor restrictions will give families and most importantly, residents that missing piece of their daily lives back.

“That social engagement for the residents, visiting with family,” LuQuire said. “What we try to avoid, all of us across the board, any facility you’re dealing with, is avoiding isolation.”

There are some restrictions though, and not every nursing home will qualify. On Monday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced assisted living facilities can now have indoor visits again as long as they haven’t had any positive COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days, and the facilities are in counties with a positive testing rate of less than 10%.

LuQuire says, aside from the virus itself, the visitor restrictions and isolation were the toughest parts for his residents.

“None of us have enjoyed it obviously,” he said. “But for them, especially the ones who can’t comprehend or understand what’s going on, that’s been the most difficult for us. You know, explaining to them that nobody’s coming to visit.”

LuQuire says they’ve been doing outdoor visits or visits through the windows, but it’s just not the same.

With indoor visits, he says they’ll still be screening every visitor, keeping people distanced and doing outdoor visits as much as possible.

“The fact that families can start coming in, and the familiarity of that piece, added back into to care they’re getting is a huge part for us,” he said.

He says they’re also asking families to call ahead before visiting, so they can make sure they can accommodate everyone while still following COVID safety precautions.

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