The notoriously mismanaged California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is back in the news again for all of the wrong reasons. Not only has the Department now acknowledged that it has failed to regularly test for COVID-19 the inspectors surveying nursing facilities with outbreaks of the virus, but it has embarked upon a sweeping plan to undermine the independence and reliability of its own inspection program at a time when nursing home residents need rigorous enforcement most.
Outdoor visitation is now required in California nursing homes but many facilities have not gotten the memo. Here is a sample letter to use to distribute the memo and get outdoor visits for nursing home residents.
Two new studies have found a close relationship between RN staffing and COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths in nursing homes. The first study reviewed reported COVID-19 infections in California through May 4 and identified three factors associated with increased risk of COVID-19 in nursing homes: higher numbers of past health deficiencies, larger facilities with more residents, and lower federal 5-star ratings.
The Coalition for the Protection of Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities has issued a new brief opposing immunity for long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many states have already provided cover to facilities that neglected and abused residents during the pandemic. Now Congress and California are considering similar legislation. The brief lists actions Congress can take to protect, rather than forsake, long-term care facility residents.
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)
On June 26, the California Department of Public Health released a new policy regarding visitation that, for the first time since March, REQUIRES nursing homes to permit visitors for outdoor and indoor visits. Facilities with no current COVID-19 outbreak must permit outdoor visitation. Indoor visits must be permitted if a facility meets six criteria: no current COVID-19 outbreak, a decline in cases in the community, no new COVID-19 cases in the facility for the past 14 days, no staffing shortages and not using a COVID-19 staffing waiver, an adequate testing plan per AFL 20-53, and an approved COVID-19 Mitigation Plan.
On June 26, the California Department of Social Services released updated guidance regarding visitation in PIN 20-23-ASC that, for the first time since March, REQUIRES assisted living facilities to permit visitors under specified narrow circumstances, and permits indoor and outdoor visitation when certain criteria are met. Providers are required to follow the guidance unless there are contradictory or stricter requirements imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California Department of Public Health (CDPH), or local health departments.
A recent podcast from the Long Term Care Community Coalition takes on the tragedy of the visitation ban in long term care facilities. CANHR Staff Attorney Tony Chicotel and CANHR’s #VisitationSavesLives campaign is featured in the podcast. The episode is called “The Eyes, Ears, and Voice: Why Nursing Home Visitation Saves Lives.”
On June 22nd the California Senate unanimously passed Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill, SB 1207, to help save the lives of California nursing home residents during power outages that may result from public safety power shutoffs (PSPS), emergencies, natural disasters, and other causes. CANHR and Long Term Care Ombudsman Services of San Luis Obispo County are co-sponsoring SB 1207.
CANHR’s own Mike Dark is the co-author of this paper published in the International Journal of Psychogeriatrics on the subject of human rights of older people in the COVID pandemic. To download the article and read it, click HERE (PDF)