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ISDH Issues Guidance for In-facility Essential Family Caregivers

Posted Jun 6, 20202 min Read

Regulatory & Clinical

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) issued guidance on 6/5/2020 at 7 p.m. that would permit long term care facilities to permit family member or other outside caregivers (together called Essential Family Caregivers, or EFCs) the ability to provide care to the resident within the long term care facility.  This guidance does not go into effect for seven (7) days, or 6/12/2020, as noted at the bottom of guidance document.

There are several controls on the process of establishing Essential Family Caregiver. The guidance speaks clearly that the designation of an Essential Family Caregivers must be integrated into the care planning process and such designation is at the sole discretion of the long term care facility executive director and must be agreed upon by the resident (or resident representative).  The guidance applies to both nursing facilities and residential care facilities.

The following items are critical to the Essential Family Caregivers Guidance:

  • The Essential Family Caregivers Must have been regularly engaged with the resident at least two (2) or more times per week before the pandemic to qualify as an Essential Family Caregiver.
  • A negative COVID-19 testis required before the Essential Family Caregiver may be scheduled for support, and the Essential Family Caregiver is subject to regular COVID-19 testing that is required of facility staff.
  • Designation of an Essential Family Caregivers is at the sole discretion of the long term care facility and must be agreed upon by the resident (or resident representative).
  • Essential Family Caregivers must be 18 years old or older.
  • Essential Family Caregivers must be scheduled and cannot exceed 2 hours per day.
  • Essential Family Caregivers provide support similar to what was provided prior to the pandemic (meal set up, grooming, and companionship, for example).
  • Essential Family Caregivers must wear a mask at all times and perform frequent hand hygiene.  If additional PPE is required, the Essential Family Caregiver must meet with the facilities infection control lead for instruction on proper PPE use when providing support.
  • Essential Family Caregivers must sign-in upon arrival, be screened for signs and symptoms, and agree to limit contacts outside of the facility.

Revocation of Essential Family Caregiver status is at the sole discretion of the long term care facility executive director for Essential Family Caregivers who fail to abide by the above.

Implementation must be accompanied with pre-planning and communications with staff, residents, and resident representatives.


About the Author

Zach Cattell, President, Indiana Health Care Association