Letter — Love and nursing homes

To the editor:

In an era when fear and isolation are now experienced every day by millions of Americans, imagine how magnified those emotions are for more than 22,000 Connecticut residents who live in nursing homes.

Due to COVID-19, visitation by family and friends is now prohibited and many residents, nearing the end of their lives, are dying without the comforting presence of their own families. Although there are many caring staff who play the role of surrogate family for these residents, their number cannot reach all those who are sick, lonely, isolated and afraid.

Nursing home residents are currently not allowed to install video cameras in their rooms, a huge barrier for caregivers or other loved ones who want to monitor a resident’s condition. This is especially true when a resident is non-verbal, has dementia, or is otherwise unable to communicate over the phone or through email.

Cameras and other communication devices must be allowed to help maintain connections with family and friends as well as to relieve staff of often being the sole personal connection and emotional support for too many residents.

The Governor’s Office and the Department of Public Health could require nursing homes to offer and facilitate reasonable, practicable, alternative means of communication so that family and friends can be present virtually, through technology. I urge the governor and other policymakers to act now to help nursing home residents stay connected to the people who love them.

Stacy Stableford