Governor Inslee’s recent Proclamation caused a great deal of concern among WHCA members regarding facility dining rooms and group activities. Many WHCA members were concerned that they would be forced to close their dining rooms and discontinue any group activities.
These questions prompted a great deal of back and forth dialogue with WHCA, RCS, and the Governor’s office. All parties agreed that assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities continue to be governed by the “Safe Start for LTC Recommendations and Requirements” for assisted living and for skilled nursing.
The Governor’s recent Proclamation did not change the requirement that WHCA members follow the “Safe Start for LTC Recommendations and Requirements.” Nor did the Proclamation change the directions for communal dining and group activities found within the “Safe Start for LTC” documents. Therefore, since WHCA members followed the LTC Safe Start guidance before the Governor’s Proclamation, they will continue to follow the same safe start guidance going forward.
If a facility is properly following the safe start guidance and its LHJ guidance, there should be no change between what a facility is doing today and what it is does after 12:01 AM tomorrow morning with respect to communal dining and group activities (barring any unforeseen changes or developments such as an outbreak or change in official interpretation).
It is important to note that the Governor’s Proclamation does make changes that directly impact visitation in both skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. The Governor directs that if current guidance (the Safe Start for LTC Requirements and Recommendations) is more restrictive than the identified proclamation restrictions, the most restrictive guidance shall apply.
According to the proclamation, “Outdoor visits are permitted. Indoor visits are prohibited, but individual exceptions for an essential support person or end-of-life care are permitted.” Currently, “essential support persons” can only visit a facility that is in Phase 2 or higher. That limitation remains in effect.
The Governor’s recent Proclamation does impose a more restrictive standard on “compassionate care” visits. Before the Governor’s recent Proclamation, Phase 1 indoor visitation was prohibited, except for “Compassionate care situations restricted to end-of-life and psycho-social needs.” The Governor’s most recent Proclamation is more stringent, eliminating any reference to “compassionate care” and “psycho-social needs” and instead clearly stating visitations for “end-of-life care are permitted.”
According to RCS Director Candace Goehring, the Department will be issuing clarification guidance in the form of a Dear Administrator/Provider letter in the very near future. The Department of Health is in the process of finalizing documents that will assist facilities to put safety measures in place related to these activities.
As soon as more information becomes available, WHCA will let you know. In the meantime, if you continue to have questions please email Vicki McNealley or Elena Madrid