The Alzheimer's Association is grateful for Governor Phil Murphy's signing of bill S-2785 which addresses social isolation in long-term care settings. We also would like to thank legislative champions - Senators Vin Gopal and Nellie Pou, and Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Angela V. McKnight, and Carol A. Murphy for sponsoring the legislation. Approximately 48% of nursing home residents and 42% of assisted living residents live with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Social and mental stimulation are among the few tools that can slow the march of dementia. Legislation such as this can ensure that residents in these communities are protected, engaged, and connected with their loved ones.

Bill S-2785 requires long-term care facilities, as a condition of licensure, to implement policies to prevent social isolation of residents. It is intended to address the tremendous strain experienced by long-term care residents, and families of residents, because of the prohibition of, and limitation on, visitation during the pandemic. The bill requires facilities to create social isolation prevention policies to authorize residents of the facility to engage in in-person contact, communications, and religious and recreational activities with other facility residents and with family members, friends, and other external support systems, except when prohibited, restricted, or limited. It further requires policies to consider means to promote virtual visitation and resident recreational activities during periods where in-person engagement is limited/prohibited, and requires facilities to maintain the appropriate technology to implement that mandate.

“Thank you Governor Murphy and the entire New Jersey legislature for your unanimous bi-partisan support. We look forward to working collaboratively with our long-term care partners in making New Jersey a more dementia-friendly state,” said Phil Echevarria, director of government affairs.