MDH issues guidance recommending designated visitors at long-term care facilities

The Minnesota Department of Health is releasing new essential caregiver guidance for long-term care (LTC) facilities, which allows for family members to have more in-person visits with their loved ones.

LTC facilities are "strongly recommended" to create a process to designate essential caregivers for their residents, who would then be able to schedule in-person visits. Due to COVID-19 concerns, visitor restrictions have been in place at LTC facilities since mid-March. According to MDH, prolonged physical separation and isolation can have a negative impact on residents in these facilities.

“While preventing the spread of COVID-19 among residents of long-term care facilities has been a top priority since the start of the pandemic, we all recognize how important it is to ensure that the social and emotional needs of residents continue to be met – especially in light of limitations on visits and other activities in these settings,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a press release. 

An essential caregiver can be a family member, a third-party caregiver, friend or volunteer who provided support to the resident before the pandemic. A resident can ask to designate more than one essential caregiver.

It will be up to the LTC to schedule the visits, in order to limit the amount of people visiting at a time in order to keep residents safe.

Facilities that choose to create an essential caregiver program have until July 25 to draft policies and put their plans into place. If arrangements are in place, facilities can start their programs before the deadline. Facilities are not required to make an essential caregiver program.

For full information on the new essential caregiver guidelines, click here.