New Policy from Department of Public Health Restores Some Visitation Rights in Nursing Homes

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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 MUST permit outdoor visitation unless there is a local public health order that prohibits it. Indoor visits must be permitted if a facility meets six criteria:

  1. no current COVID-19 outbreak,
  2. a decline in cases in the community,
  3. no new COVID-19 cases in the facility for the past 14 days,
  4. no staffing shortages and not using a COVID-19 staffing waiver,
  5. an adequate testing plan per AFL 20-53, and
  6. an approved COVID-19 Mitigation Plan.

For indoor visits, only one designated visitor allowed per resident (per visit – more than one visitor may visit, just not at the same time). All visits (indoor or outdoor) must be scheduled in advance with visitors screened for fever or COVID-19 symptoms. All visitors must comply with social distancing (6 feet or more physical distancing), wear facial coverings, and permit staff monitoring to ensure compliance with infection control guidelines.

The new policy may have been partially motivated by CANHR’s ongoing #VisitationSavesLives campaign.  Now that residents have some of their rights back, the campaign will advocate for better state enforcement as well as restoring the visitation rights of assisted living residents, who were not affected by the shift in state policy.