COVID-19 and Assisted Living Facilities (As of 3/18/2020)

While much of the focus with COVID-19 has been on skilled nursing, assisted living facility residents are in the same vulnerable position as nursing home residents.

The California Department of Social Services has been in contact with facility owners to provide information, resources, and guidance on how to respond to this pandemic. On the Dept. of Social Services homepage, there is information on COVID-19, links to various reputable agencies, and Community Care Licensing Division’s (CCLD) own Provider Information Notices (PINs) for residential care facilities. CCLD has posted 11 PINS on COVID-19 with 6 specifically for adult and senior care facilities. They have also held 2 conference calls for all facility owners in the State to provide updates, clarify concerns, and answer questions.

Since Governor Newsom issued a State of Emergency on March 4th, Dept. of Social Services has been authorized to waive any Health & Safety Codes, Welfare & Institutions Codes, or Title 22 regulations related to residential care facilities if waiving those codes and regulations allow facilities to better respond the growing concern. This is not a free-for-all, however. For the majority of regulations, facilities must request that specific requirements be waived and they must be approved by CCLD before going into effect.

The exception comes with PIN 20-07-ASC and PIN 20-08-ASC, arguably the most important PINs that the Dept. of Social Services and Community Care Licensing have created regarding COVID-19. They provide best practices for keeping the risk of people in the residential care facilities as low as possible, as well as creating a state-wide blanket waiver for regulations addressing these topics:

  • Visitation
  • Planned Activities
  • Resident/Family Councils
  • Building and Grounds
  • Capacity
  • Staffing Ratios
  • Criminal Record & Background Clearance
  • Personnel Requirements
  • Administrator Certification

CARR will be posting another article about what this wavier means for residents and their families in detail soon.

A state-wide waiver means that California Department of Social Services has identified the waiver of these regulations and codes to be in the best interest for preventing and minimizing COVID-19 exposure to residential care facility residents. In practice, facilities must inform CCLD of which regulations they are waiving, create a policy detailing how these regulations are being waived, and inform residents and their families and/or responsible parties about the changes.

Facilities are advised to implement these waiver conditions on an as-needed basis and ensure they are following the advice of medical professionals and government agencies. Additionally, these waivers cannot interfere with any essential organization or agency from entering and investigating the facility.

This state-wide waiver is in effect until Governor Newsom's emergency declaration expires with the possibility of extension.

Assisted living facilities need to mitigate and minimize possible COVID-19 exposure to their residents. It does not mean, however, that residents have lost their rights. Advocate for your loved one by contacting the facility and asking them what their specific plan is to minimize the risk of an outbreak. Work with the facility to set up video calling or online communications. Facilities cannot cancel all activities and leave residents in their rooms all day. They should be providing some kind of replacement activity. Remember that facilities must inform residents and their responsible parties of any approved waivers they receive from CCLD.

Keep up to date on how COVID-19 is affecting assisted living facilities by visiting the Department of Social Services website daily.


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