Hospitals Must Allow Caregivers to Accompany Patients with Special Needs

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals across the nation are prohibiting visitors. While this policy is sound to stop the spread of the virus, it presents hardships to a vulnerable population -- people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)/ Special Needs (such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Fragile X, and related complex disabilities with cognitive impairments).
 
Many individuals with IDD have limited verbal communication skills, difficulties understanding consent/ care plans/ treatment, situational trauma with unfamiliar settings, low stress thresholds, and anxiety due to separation from known family members, friends, or staff.

These limitations worsen when their Disability Support Professional (caregiver) or family member is prohibited from “in-hospital” support.

'No Visitors' policies may result in detrimental outcomes because vital bio-psycho-social information is not available to medical staff. Agency personnel and family caregivers who have this type of information can provide it stat when on site in the patient’s room or floor. 

We recommend that hospitals provide reasonable accommodations in accord with the Americans with Disabilities Act in their visitor policies for persons who need support from known and acknowledged support persons (such as family, designated support personnel -- such as direct support professionals, or other designated caregivers).