We are pleased that the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has made clear that federal law requires facilities such as hospitals and state agencies to modify their policies so that people with special needs, including seniors with dementia, should be permitted to have people like care managers visit them advocacy purposes. This is very important! Many facilities put strict no-visitor policies into place earlier this year to keep their staff and patients safe from COVID-19. However, these policies kept some seniors and people with disabilities from receiving support from family members or care managers who could coordinate their medical treatment.
Why is Patient Advocacy Important?
Certified geriatric care managers and patient advocates can speak for those who, both literally and figuratively, cannot always speak for themselves. They can support people with special needs or seniors who have dementia by:
- Coordinating medical care with the physicians and medical professionals
- Communicating about the patient’s care with the family
- Reviewing treatment plans and
- Assisting in placing the client or patient in the right treatment or living facility
- Advocate to represent the client’s best interest
Many of these tasks require the care manager to be present in the hospital or other facility, but COVID visitor restrictions put into place early in 2020 limited the ability to help clients.
How the Resolution Helps
Several disability advocacy organizations filed a complaint against the state of Connecticut arguing that the strict no-visitor policies “denied people with disabilities equal access to medical care and effective communication, deprived them of their right to make informed decisions and provide informed consent, and resulted in harms such as unnecessary physical and chemical restraints.” The resolution from the Office for Civil Rights confirms that hospitals and state agencies must amend their policies so that people with special needs, including seniors with dementia, can access the in-person support that they need. We believe this is a win for our clients and all patients who need additional care management assistance!