Information and resources that support your role in caring for a loved one.

Guidance on celebrating the holidays with minimum risk for families of those in long-term and congregate care facilities from Secretary Mary Lou Sudders.

The following is a summary of an open letter posted on www.mass.gov from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) released guidance in November for how to keep friends, families and our communities safe during the holiday season. There are important considerations when planning celebrations, especially with a loved one who lives in a congregate setting.

Many people living in congregate settings are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 and may have health conditions putting them at a higher risk of becoming sick, or even severely ill, with COVID-19. Because of this, the DPH strongly discourages bringing your loved one home for any in-person gatherings.

Examples of Safer Ways to Celebrate

Lowest Risk: The safest way to celebrate is at home, with the people you live with.

Low risk: Celebrate virtually with your loved one using methods such as Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Google Duo.

Low-medium risk: Visit your loved one at their residence. Bring a favorite Thanksgiving food or a holiday treat (within the facility’s guidelines), following safety guidelines including mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. The risk level of a visit to the facility or residence depends on the number of visitors and the potential exposure to COVID-19 that any of the visitors may have had.

Very high risk- not recommended: Bring your loved one home to celebrate with your household and/or other households. We strongly discourage any gatherings with people outside your home. Your loved one may need to quarantine for 14 days upon return to their congregate care setting.

Guidelines on Visits and Travel

Check with the facility for current guidelines.
All in-person visits and off-sites must follow established guidance and protocols. Please check the latest visitation guidance for long-term care facilitiesAssisted Living Residences, and congregate care settings and contact your loved one’s residence about setting up an in-person visit or making off-site arrangements.

Get tested prior to visiting or traveling
Prior to any in-person visit, all participants should screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and are encouraged to get a COVID-19 test.  Please check Mass.gov/GetTested for locations.

Comply with Massachusetts COVID-19 travel orders
Out-of-state family members visiting for the holidays must comply with all travel requirements outlined in the Massachusetts COVID-19 travel order. 

NOTE: You are exempt from these requirements if your travel is limited to a brief trip to visit a person in a long-term are or congregate care setting. For example: driving from Rhode Island (or another high-risk state) to Massachusetts to visit a parent in a nursing home for 45 minutes, and then immediately returning home.

Additional Resources

In addition to discussing with your loved one’s facility or residence, there are additonal resources available to discuss how to safely celebrate with your loved one.

Families of loved ones in long-term care settings, including ALRs:
Nursing Home Family Resource at 617-660-5399 (Call Monday-Friday 9am-5pm).

Families of loved ones in other congregate settings:
Reach out to their loved one’s case manager, social worker, or service coordinator for additional support. For a BayPath consumer in MetroWest, call us at: 508-573-7200

For a list of all 26 Aging Services Access Points in Massachusetts:
Visit Mass Home Care: http://masshomecare.info/wp/our-members-3/

See the full article on mass.gov

Read the full letter here


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