Right to Caregiver Visits to Texas Nursing Homes on Ballot for November Election

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Voters in Texas will consider eight proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot in the upcoming statewide election in November, including one regarding residents’ rights to nursing homes and nursing homes. service residences for visitors.

It’s a measure Mary Nichols fought for after spending months away from her mother last year when her mother’s nursing home closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When the state temporarily suspended visits to long-term care facilities housing these vulnerable residents, Nichols worried about the type of care his mother was receiving without her to check on.

“She can’t even turn her head at this point so she doesn’t have any human contact at this point if I’m not there to sing to her, talk to her,” she said. “Those six months that people went without contact last year were devastating.”

Nichols began to advocate for the right of every resident to have an “essential family caregiver” for in-person visits. This spring, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 25, ensuring residents retain this right regardless of other COVID-19 restrictions.

“I felt like we were saving the body, but killing the spirit. We will never be able to do it again, ”said Senator Donna Campbell during the Health and Social Services Committee hearing on the bill.

Senator Lois Kolkhorst, chair of the committee and one of the sponsors of the bill, also drafted a joint Senate resolution regarding essential family caregivers. This resolution is now on the November ballot for voters as Proposition 6.

“Laws can be suspended. They can press a wait button on these laws. If it’s a constitutional right, they can’t do it, ”Nichols said.

Proposal 6 would ensure that residents of long-term care facilities have the right to designate an authorized essential caregiver for in-person visits, even in the event of a health emergency. The proposed amendment would apply to residents of a Texas nursing facility, assisted living facility, developmental intermediate care facility, residence providing home care services and community centers or a center of life supported by the State. It would also authorize the legislature to provide guidelines for these facilities to follow in establishing policies and procedures for visiting essential caregivers.

Nichols said they didn’t meet much opposition when arguing for the amendment.

Kevin Warren, president and CEO of the Texas Health Care Association, which advocates for nursing homes, said they support Proposition 6.

“The THCA supports the measure because it recognizes the importance of face-to-face relationships while maintaining a facility’s ability to take necessary action to protect itself in the event of a potential risk to the health of the community. We appreciate the support for the long-term care profession and the heroes who care for our most vulnerable Texans every day, ”he said.

Nichols told KXAN that one of their biggest hurdles was making sure people know this measure is up for a vote on November 2.

“We will all either be a caregiver, know someone who is a caregiver or need a caregiver, so this is something that is going to affect all of us,” she said.


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