For nearly a year during the pandemic, long-term care residents were locked away from their loved ones under a federal ban on access in all but a few limited circumstances. Even though safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines prompted easing of these restrictions starting in March 2021, the ongoing spread of the delta variant has spurred outbreaks and a return to isolation for elders and people with disabilities across the country.
While often described as “visitation bans,” these lockdowns deprive residents of the unpaid, informal, but still vital caregiving tasks that family and friends have always provided in nursing homes and other long-term care settings — along with the simple dignity and pleasure of human contact and conversation.
The Essential Caregivers Act of 2021 (H.R. 3733) would create a mandatory access program during the current pandemic and all future public health emergencies, allowing LTC residents to nominate two essential caregivers who can provide up to 12 hours per day of direct care. To ensure the safety of all residents and staff, essential caregivers would be required to follow the same infection control practices and requirements as employees.
The Green House Project wholeheartedly supports the Essential Caregivers Act and urges Congress to pass this bill as soon as possible. To learn more about the legislation, download our fact sheet, and if you feel inspired to contact your federal lawmakers, use this template to guide your conversation or message.