Balancing safety, connection, and well-being at places of care in a time of COVID

We have heard from our members that one of the most challenging aspects of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has been balancing safety, connection, and well-being in visitation policies at places of care. Early policies were highly restrictive, aimed at stopping transmission of the virus. This changed as our knowledge about, and resources for, fighting transmission increased and we understood the impact these restrictive policies were having on the very people they were intended to protect.

Safety quickly became about more than just protection from the virus -- it grew to recognize:

  • The critical role that family, friends and others play as part of the care team;
  • The increased burden on care providers as they tried to facilitate connection between loved ones virtually;
  • And the significant impact of prolonged isolation.

The core lesson that emerged is a shift from thinking of a patient’s family, friends, and others as “nice to have visitors” to recognizing them as essential partners in the care of that patient or resident, especially for those with serious illnesses.

This shift changes many things – for example deemphasizing singular end of life visits and prioritizing more routine opportunities to be included in daily ongoing care, support and decision-making. And emphasizing the critical need to include family and caregivers in the development of policies to begin with.

The guidelines reflect on the policies, practices and lessons learned to offer recommendations in this challenging season.

Reflections on Visitation Policies During COVID


Susan Lysaght Hurley (Care Dimensions)

Lachlan Forrow (BI Lahey Health)

Emma Penti (South Shore Health)

Denise Schoen (Baystate Health)

Arlene Germain (Dignity Alliance Massachusetts)