Texas Caregivers for Compromise
Texas Caregivers for Compromise advocates for the 120,000 people in long term care facilities across the State of Texas. On March 13, 2020, the Governor of the State of Texas closed facilities to access by residents' family members and the resulting despondency and health deterioration has become as great a threat as the disease itself.
Isolation was meant to protect residents but the weight loss, rapid cognitive decline and loss of willingness to live is as prevalent as COVID-19. In addition, the mental health crisis extends to facility staff members and family members as people deal with the anxiety, stress, hopelessness, guilt, grief, resentment, anger, loss, and frustration of a long-term care industry that is no longer person-centered.
On August 7, Texas Health and Human Services adopted Phase 1 re-opening guidelines that were so restrictive, they effectively eliminated nursing homes and state supported living facilities, thus further excluding the very same people unable to participate in window visits, virtual visits and phone calls.
On September 24, 2020, Texas HHSC adopted reopening expansion guidelines that provided for essential caregivers and expanded indoor and outdoor visitation. However, multitudes of long-term care facilities state-wide either did not know the guidelines, misunderstood the guidelines, or are refused to follow the guidelines.
March 22, 2021, emergency visitation was expanded for for the second time since August and while they allow more flexibility for essential caregivers and provide both indoor and outdoor visit provisions, a great number of facilities are still non-compliant. Family members must learn the guidelines themselves, keep up with amendments and interpretations, be full-time advocates, and provide documents as proof they are entitled to simply spend time with their loved one.
Guidelines for nursing facilities were once again updated in May of this year but we are still waiting on guidance for Assisted Living Facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities to change.
It is our belief that every resident in long term care, regardless of disability, is entitled to those rights guaranteed by state and federal law. The loss of outside visitors has resulted in the loss of the resident's right to choose a physician, make decisions about care, decline treatments, participate in family and group activities, go outdoors, practice religion, be free of abuse and neglect, use personal property or even receive and open one's own mail. In addition, protection from the potential for abuse and neglect has been substantially reduced while protections for facilities from civil liability are being increased.
We can no longer write our way around basic civil and human rights and we must correct the dangerous precedent set in our country. The rights of no population of people should end the moment a pandemic begins.