CANHR is posting nursing home COVID-19 vaccination rates so residents, prospective residents, and families can finally see the percentage of staff and residents who are vaccinated in each facility that is reporting data. The rates come from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and are reported weekly by nursing homes. The data reported to CMS includes scores of categories.
Despite plummeting rates of COVID infections and deaths in nursing homes and the lifting of public health-oriented restrictions, long term care facilities throughout the state are still limiting visits from families and friends to a measly 30 minutes per week. Other facilities, in stark contrast, are permitting extensive daily visitation. The wide range of visitation policies among facilities has been enabled by the State’s continued waiver of laws that normally require broad visitation access for residents. Potential residents and their loved ones are strongly encouraged to speak with the managers of facilities they are considering and ask for written copies of their visitation policies.
CANHR has reviewed the various federal and California guidance regarding visitation in long term care facilities and synthesized the rules into a new fact sheet to guide residents and their families. The fact sheet highlights the types of visitation nursing homes and residential care facilities for the elderly must provide and under what conditions as well as the infection control protocols facilities may impose during visits. Download the Fact Sheet HERE (PDF)
After a year of stringent restrictions imposed because of COVID-19, the California Department of Social Services (DSS) released new guidance on March 19, 2021 significantly relaxing restrictions on visitors to Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE). The guidance also relaxes restrictions on communal dining and group activities, and on residents returning from outings. Set forth in PIN 21-17-ASC, the guidance is effective immediately.
State and federal authorities have issued a raft of new guidance on visitation. While many of these new rules significantly relax restrictions on visitors, some questions remain regarding areas of inconsistency between the two sets of rules. On March 10 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance for nursing homes intended to relieve some of the harm experienced by long term care residents as a result of COVID-19-related restrictions on visitation.
A study from the American Health Care Association has found that the COVID-19 vaccines are contributing to lower infection rates and COVID spread in nursing homes. This study, based on preliminary data gathered shortly after the introduction of the vaccine in nursing homes in late 2020, provides evidence in favor of reopening nursing homes after its residents and staff have been vaccinated.
By Mike Dark, CANHR Staff Attorney After a ten-month battle with the most serious public health crisis in the history of long term care in the U.S., the cavalry is finally arriving, in the form of vaccines that have already been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by regulators. Still more vaccines await in the pipeline, perhaps for January or February.
On October 5, CANHR wrote the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) urging it to withdraw its deceptively named nursing home oversight plan – Quality and Safety State SNF Survey Model – that would divert its inspector workforce by requiring inspectors to conduct collaborative monitoring visits at skilled nursing facilities. CANHR’s letter also urges CDPH to rescind a new duty statement for nursing home inspectors that requires inspectors to spend 30 percent of their time advising and assisting nursing home operators on regulatory matters.
An October 2020 report by Altarum presents the findings of a survey of residents on how their lives have been impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions. Residents reported a drastic reduction in social activities and a steep increase in feelings of loneliness. The report – Experiences of Nursing Home Residents During the Pandemic – includes direct comments from residents in their own words that speak powerfully to the urgent need to end the extreme isolation that’s been imposed on them.
There’s a big election coming up in November. If you live in an assisted living or nursing facility, you should be aware that you do not lose your right to vote just because you move into long-term care. However, you might face a number of practical barriers to exercising your right to vote, and many of these barriers will be exacerbated in the context of COVID-19.CLICK HERE for guidance for residents planning to exercise their right to vote this November.