This week’s Ftag of the Week on the CMSCG Blog is part of the Residents Rights regulatory group, F586 Resident Contact with External Entities. This regulation states that facilities must ensure that residents are not discouraged or even prohibited from communicating with external entities. External entities include Federal/State/Local officials such as surveyors, health department employees, representatives from the State LTC Ombudsman Program, and representatives from other agencies responsible for protection and advocacy for residents who have mental disorders.
This week’s Ftag is a gentle reminder that given the strong precautions every facility is taking to keep its resident population safe, including by restricting visitors, that it is important to remember that residents retain the right to communicate with outside entities. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) QSO Memo dated March 9, 2020 includes revised guidance for visitation, including limiting visitors. Please ensure residents are aware of the alternate communication means that are available to them should they wish to contact one of these outside entities. We know providers have been diligent about helping residents stay in communication with their loved ones, families and resident representatives, but ensure residents understand how they can contact any of these entities as well should they wish to do so. Sharing such information at the next scheduled Resident Council meeting is a good way to show that you are disseminating information on how to contact these outside agencies. There is also a reference to reviewing guidance at F585 Grievances as part of the Intent of this regulation, so sharing information on how to contact these agencies is a smart plan.