Steps to Allow Singing and Wind Instrument Musicians in Long-term Care

According to recent guidance, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) allows music activities and performance in long-term care settings and recommends several steps to ensure the safety of residents, staff and performers.

MDH published recommendations for music activities and performances during COVID-19 on May 28. The document is not healthcare specific, but it is the document that MDH references when asked about musicians in our settings.

This guidance calls for caution when inviting singers and brass and woodwind musicians into our settings because of the more forceful projection of respiratory droplets. In some cases, these droplets can hang in the air for hours.

While we can have singers and brass/woodwind musicians in our settings, some things should be in place to allow this safely:

  • There must be a COVID-19 preparedness plan that outlines how the organization will ensure the safety of staff, performers, and residents. MDH developed a business plan template to use in this instance. MDH has not explicitly stated this is required in healthcare organizations, but we recommend using this if your community allows singing or musicians with wind instruments to entertain residents.
  • Give preference to outdoor rehearsals and performances.
  • Determine how to handle vaccinated vs. unvaccinated individuals.
  • Consider physical distancing. While the most recent guidance no longer says musicians must stay 12 feet away from residents, documented decisions and rationale should be in the plan.
  • Determine who will be required to wear and mask and when.
  • Use the fewest number of performers needed.
  • Specific to church services, when the congregation often sings too, the recommendation is to have congregants wear face masks; however, there is language in the guidance that says, at a minimum, create an environment that supports face coverings. However, this is the general guidance to business, and, as healthcare organizations, we are held to higher infection prevention and control standards. For the highest level of safety, we recommend asking all congregants to mask.

If you have questions, contact Kari Everson, Director of Clinical Care & Clinical Consultant.

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