Houston senior living facilities prepare for return to in-person visits

The State of Texas is partially rolling back its ban on in-person visits at nursing homes and long term care facilities, allowing limited visitation for the first time in nearly five months.

It’s been a lonely 2020 for many senior citizens who have not been allowed to have visitors at their state-licensed nursing homes and long term care facilities, so when the state announced Thursday it will relax some visitation regulations the phone lines at those facilities started to ring.

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“We’ve literally received hundreds of phone calls across our different communities from families saying, I’m gonna be there in 30 minutes,” said Dave Keaton, retirement center president at The Village of River Oaks in Houston. “We have to let them know that it’s not fully approved yet…. We’ve had several families that have showed up at the door, and we have to tell them the same thing.”

The next step for retirement communities is to send affidavits to the state and get approval for visits either through Plexiglas indoors or from a social distance outdoors, so long as there are no active cases of COVID-19. The state is still banning physical contact.
And across town at the Treemont Retirement Community, Lilian Douglas, 92, is in the age group considered most at risk for COVID-19.

“We have not been allowed to have any visitors,” said Douglas.

Her long term care facility has newly added window visits for its residents while they wait for full state approval of further in-person visits. It’s been months since she’s seen her children in person.

CLICK HERE to read full details of the new nursing facility rules

“It’s not good, but there’s very little that- When you reach this age and ability to be involved in things, there’s not much you can do about it,” said Douglas.

At the Village of River Oaks, Keaton says many families have had enough of the state’s regulations

“Some folks have said, look you know, if I can’t visit mom or dad, then I’m gonna take them home, and certainly that is their right to do so,” said Keaton.

Keaton said he believes the need to return to in-person visits is critical, as some residents are falling into depression and poor health in isolation.

Many senior living communities are at least making iPhone FaceTime calls available, so their residents can see their families through the phone.