New Guidance from Department of Social Services Restores Some Visitation Rights in Assisted Living Facilities

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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.

Facilities MUST allow visitation for “Essential Visitors,” or for “medically necessary visits (e.g. end-of-life) or other urgent health or legal matters that cannot be postponed (e.g. estate planning, advance health care directives, Power of Attorney, transfer of property title).” “Medically necessary” is undefined, but expressly includes end-of-life and likely includes visits to counter extreme depression or physical decline caused by isolation. The guidance also requires that facilities allow visitation on the facility premises where there is 6 feet or more physical distancing, source control and infection control, e.g., drive-by visits or visits through a resident’s window.

Facilities MAY allow additional visits if the following five conditions are met:

  1. There have been no new transmissions of COVID-19 at the facility for 14 days;
  2. Facility is not experiencing staff shortages,
  3. Facility has adequate supplies of PPE and essential cleaning supplies to care for persons in care;
  4. Facility has adequate access to COVID-19 testing; and
  5. Facility is requiring visitors to wear face coverings, i.e., facemasks or cloth face coverings.

The guidance also describes various safety protocols/best practices, including: visits taking place outside, to the extent possible; scheduling visits in advance; limiting number of visitors at any one time to avoid having large groups congregate; screening all visitors for symptoms, including temperature screenings; and all parties wearing face coverings and being physically distant during the visit.

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