Families hopeful indoor visits will lift spirits of confined loved ones

New guidelines issued by the Minnesota Department of Health are giving families of long term care residents hope for increased quality time with loved ones.

Under the new guidelines, home care providers and assisted living communities can allow indoor visits as long as the facility has not had a new COVID-19 infection within 14 days and the infection rate in the surrounding county is no more than 10 percent.

For Elise Mademann whose brother lives in a group home, it was welcome news.

“Its really hard when he calls and says he just wants a hug,” said Mademann. “I have three little kids and he just wants to see his nieces and nephews.”

She has only seen her brother a handful of times in the last seven months. Each visit has been outside and socially distant. She is hoping that by being able to go inside her brother’s group home, they will get some sense of normalcy.

“I think it’s a lot different when you can be in your home and there’s a sense of home. Even if you have to wear masks.”

Senior Living industry group Care Providers of Minnesota says while its important for the mental health of residents to find a way for visits, the CEO says it inevitably increases the chance of transmission.

“When you are inside, you increase the risk which means we increase the infection prevention,” said Care Providers of Minnesota CEO Patti Cullen.

Cullen says visitors should expect strict rules for indoor visits, including masks, distancing, and in some communities designated visiting rooms. She also says visitor accommodations will differ from community to community.

“For every building, its not going to be automatic. And I want people to just know that we are going to do the best we can to make sure your loved one can connect with you but its very individualized,” she said.

But for Mademann, its at least one step closer to getting that hug she’s been waiting for.

“Just to have the comfort of normalcy you just don’t get that if you’re told to sit outside with a card table. With or without masks,” she said.