Senate passes Lombardi bill to give family caregivers access to residents in nursing homes during emergencies


STATE HOUSE — The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) that would allow the families of nursing home residents to be visited by certain family members or caregivers.

The bill (2021- S 0006A) would require the Department of Health to promulgate rules and regulations providing for the designation of essential caregivers to provide in-person physical or emotional support to a resident of a nursing home or long-term care facility during the period of 15 days after the declaration of disaster emergency and until 60 days after the termination of the declaration.

“It’s a tragedy that nursing home residents — particularly those suffering from dementia — were separated from their families during this pandemic,” said Senator Lombardi. “It’s frustrating and infuriating that the social and psychological well-being of these residents was put in jeopardy because they were unable to communicate with those they love. They may have been safe from coronavirus, but they were inflicted with a debilitating loneliness.”

Under the legislation, an essential caregiver would be an individual — whether a family member or friend of a resident of a nursing home or long-term care facility — who is designated to provide physical or emotional support to the resident during a declaration of disaster emergency.

The bill would require the Department of Health to develop rules and regulations on designating an essential caregiver and the criteria to qualify. Those rules would include health and safety regulations as well as requirements allowing an essential caregiver to have regular and sustained in-person visitation and physical access to a resident of the nursing home or long-term care facility.

The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2021-H 5543) has been introduced by Rep. June Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Bristol Warren).



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