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.
September 1, 2021, Senate Bill 25 took effect establishing essential caregivers in law and on November 2, 2021, the voters of Texas approved Proposition 6 enshrining essential caregivers into the Constitution of the State of Texas.
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 and the Constitution of the State of Texas. 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, use personal property, wear their own clothes, receive mail, and even vote. The loss of visitors has opened the door to subjective practices, reduced resident protections from the potential for abuse and neglect, increased civil and criminal liabilities in long-term care facilities, and imposed additional responsibilities on an overworked and dwindling labor pool.
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.