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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Rules for Nursing Homes

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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Questions and answers about how COVID-19 has affected nursing home and long-term care facilities in Washington state. #5204EN


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*Read this only if you live in the state of Washington.


Are there special rules for nursing homes during this pandemic?

Yes. Things are changing fast. Check back for updates. We discuss here rules from Governor Inslee's orders and guidance from the federal government.


Do these rules cover assisted living facilities?



Can residents have visitors?

No. The current ban on visitors is extended until August 1. In the meantime, the state is working on a phased re-opening plan for nursing homes and other long-term care settings. Nursing homes can make exceptions for "compassionate care situations," including end-of-life situations, case-by-case.


What are the rules around any permitted visits?

  • Visits must take place in the resident's room or a specially designated, "clean" room. This does not apply to end-of-life situations.

  • Visitors must follow precautionary measures. These include, but are not limited to, wearing personal protective equipment such as facemasks and social distancing.

  • Visitors must sign into a visitor's log.

  • Owners and operators must keep the visitor's log for 30 days.

  • Visitors and staff should use "hand hygiene."


Can residents leave the facility?

Yes.  It is recommended that nursing homes explain the requirements and risks and that residents be screened when they return.


Are staff being screened for COVID-19?

Yes. Workers and volunteers must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms when they start each shift.


What happens to a resident who tests positive for COVID-19?

The resident will be isolated from other residents. Staff will keep the person away from other people.


Can the nursing home tell other people about a resident's condition?

No. Owners, operators, staff and volunteers cannot give out protected and confidential health information. There are some legal exceptions to this. It is okay to do so if the resident agrees to let them give out information.


The nursing home where I live won't let us eat as a group anymore. They are having us eat in our rooms. Can they do this?

Yes. They can stop group meals and other group activities to help stop the spread of the virus.

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Last Review and Update: Jul 09, 2020