Son pushes for in-person visitation with nursing home residents

Son pushes for in-person visitation with nursing home residents

RECTOR, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s been a month since some restrictions on visitation at nursing homes were lifted in Arkansas, but not all nursing homes have allowed visitors.

Ray Grayham visits his mother every day through her window at a Rector nursing home and says it’s hard, especially when people inside don’t understand why they cannot visit family in person.

“For a lot of people here, and everywhere in this situation, the fear become a reality that you’ll never get to touch or hug your loved one again,” Grayham said.

His mother, Delle, has battled dementia and has been in the nursing home for three years, but since March, he has only be able to visit her through her window, due to COVID-19.

“It’s unnatural. And to be so close but separated it’s, it’s kind of surreal,” Grayham said.

The nursing home administrator said due to COVID-19 cases at the facility, in-person visitation remains restricted.

However, it is something Grayham feels is detrimental to the residents.

“The quality of life is what’s important, and when that choice to visit with their family is taken away, then their quality of life is taken away,” Grayham said.

Rachel Bunch, executive director of Arkansas Health Care Association, says quality of life is something they monitor in residents.

“Facilities monitor residents for signs and symptoms of depression, and you know, work with them, and they’ve been trying to do things to, you know, communicate in other ways,” Bunch said.

She says most restrictions are set by the federal government, but the state is reviewing some information since it has been a month since some restrictions were lifted.

“We’re going to be looking at the data and the numbers to see where the cases are, and you know maybe where we should go from here,” Bunch said.

Grayham thinks the state should consider allowing one family member to go through screening and get approval for in-person visits.

“We think that the risk can be mitigated, that it can be safe, and that we can visit with our loved ones to help take care of them,” Grayham said.

It is something some states allow, and even though Bunch said she hasn’t heard of it, she would like to look at.

“I haven’t heard of that from any other states, but I’d love to look at it, and see, you know, how that is,” Bunch said.

But, Grayham says it’s time for families to be able to hug their loved ones once again.

“But, this has gone on so long now, that I think it’s time that we allow some families to get back in and to visit their loved ones,” Grayham said.

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