Family members fight for more visitation rights at nursing homes

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — A woman demanding change in nursing home visitations is now part of a larger task force that’s forming.

The group is trying to get visitors allowed inside nursing homes. Visitations haven’t been happening because of COVID-19. Not long ago, we talked to Julie Smith, who still can’t visit her father who has dementia. In the meantime, she says he keeps getting worse. Smith says her family can come up to the window to talk to him, but he has trouble hearing, so it’s tough.

Now a group called Illinois Caregivers for Compromise is advocating for change. Carrie Leljedal organized it. Her son is in a facility as well.

“This is unprecedented, we know that, but if we can build this in a manner that, if we fix it today, and we can fix it in the future, then if something happens, whether it is in our lifetime, our children’s or our grandchildren’s, hopefully no one will ever be able to have to go through this again,” said Leljedal.

Leljedal feels each resident should be able to have at least one person who can come inside called an essential caregiver. That person could go through temperature checks and take COVID-19 tests. In addition, they should be allotted two regular visitors who won’t get as close to the residents.

The group will be lining up peacefully outside the capitol Friday morning at 11.

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