Despite the ongoing pandemic, in-person visitation is mandatory in California long term care facilities. However, a number of facilities are shutting down all in-person visitation indefinitely when a staff member or resident tests positive for COVID-19. Generally, these visitation lockouts are illegal.
The only time a facility may temporarily shut down in-person visitation is when a local public health authority has directed that visitation be stopped or in nursing homes under very specific circumstances outlined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The current visitation rules in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are summarized here.These rules apply, regardless of COVID outbreaks in a facility.
If you or your loved one’s facility is locking out visitors due to an outbreak, or for any other reason, ask the facility management what rules they are following that permit the lockout and provide the facility with CANHR’s visitation summary. If the facility persists in an unauthorized lockout, file a complaint with the state Department of Public Health and explain that the visitation lockout is an “immediate jeopardy” violation. If CDPH is not able to restore visitation at the facility within 72 hours of your complaint, contact CANHR and let us know.
New State Vaccination Rule for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
The State of California has taken an important step to safeguard the wellbeing of residents of long term care by mandating that virtually all facilities providing care in congregate settings take steps to ensure that their workers are vaccinated.
In an order issued July 26, the State mandates that hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and adult and senior care facilities verify the vaccination status of all employees, and that they require that all unvaccinated employees submit to testing twice weekly in skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities and once weekly in assisted living facilities. Vaccinated, asymptomatic employees need not be tested under the rule. The deadline for compliance is August 23.
According to federal data as of July 11, 2021, less than 80 percent of current nursing home staff in California were vaccinated. However, variation from facility to facility was extreme, ranging from 0 to 100 percent. While 827 California nursing homes reported that 75 percent or more of staff are vaccinated, over 350 facilities fall below that rate. More than one hundred California nursing facilities reported that less than half of their staff is vaccinated or reported no data.
Whenever possible, CANHR recommends that people looking for nursing homes avoid facilities where less than 75 percent of staff are currently vaccinated. All other things being equal, give preference to facilities where all, or nearly all, of staff and residents are vaccinated.
CANHR Zoom Town Halls
The Current State of Visitation Rights in Long Term Care Facilities
Long term care residents were locked down and closed off from visitation in March 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, state regulators have relaxed the lockdown but continue to permit various levels of visitation restrictions that have frustrated residents and their loved ones. The goal of this town hall is to inform participants and viewers of the current state of the visitation rules, explain how advocacy can be used to gain more visitation access, and answer key visitation questions.
The town hall speakers are CANHR staff attorneys Tony Chicotel and Mike Dark and Essential Caregivers Coalition co-founders Maitely Weismann and Melody Taylor Stark.
By Tara Law, Time Magazine, September 2, 2021 Some two weeks before U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Aug. 18 that nursing homes must require their staff to get vaccinated or risk losing their Medicare and Medicaid funding, Genesis HealthCare, which manages about 250 facilities nationwide that offer long-term care and other services, had said its workers would need to be vaccinated.