WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Many residents at nursing homes and group homes spent more than a year in isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is something we can fix,” Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) said.

Tenney says residents in nursing and group homes should not be isolated from family caregivers.

“An essential caregiver can actually enhance and prolong the life of someone who’s in a long-term care facility,” Tenney said.

Tenney and other lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure residents in long-term care facilities can have continued access to some loved ones in the event of a future public health emergency.

“It prevents seniors who’ve shown a 59% likelihood of suffering without family members or care when they’re in isolation and are lonely,” Tenney said.

Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.) says the legislation would grant residents the right to designate two essential caregivers who can access the resident.

“Everybody knows somebody who’s, you know, lost a loved one, in need of contacting and being with them. And so I think it’s a very compassionate response,” Larson said.

The bill also requires essential caregivers to use whatever health standards are put in place by a facility, like testing, protective equipment and social distancing.

Both Tenney and Larson expect a positive response from other lawmakers. They say caregivers and health care professionals want this to happen.

“When you need that extra helping hand to maybe get you through and help you through your recovery, it’s essential. And that’s why it’s called the Essential Caregivers Act,” Larson said.