HB1218 – Essential Support Person

HB1218 – Essential Support Person

Effective July 25, 2021, all residents in licensed long-term care (LTC) facilities in Washington have the right to access by an “essential support person”.  This requirement came from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Governor’s restriction of visitation in licensed facilities.  This new law gives residents the right to visits from an essential support person, regardless of current visitation restrictions.

The legal requirements for an essential support person are:

  1. They must be at least 18 years of age,
  2. Designated by the resident or by the resident’s representative if the resident is legally incapacitated, and
  3. Necessary for the residentis emotional, mental, or physical well-being during situations that include, but are not limited to the following circumstances:
    1. compassionate care,
    2. end-of-life care,
    3. visitation will assist with important continuity of care
    4. visitation will assist with reduction of confusion and anxiety for residents with cognitive impairments, or visitation will prevent or reduce significant emotional distress to the resident.

As you may recall, we spoke on last Friday’s Clinical Advisory call about a national effort to pass essential support persons legislation, which would allow two ESPs in to visit residents. You will need a policy in place regarding visitation with an essential support person and make reasonable accommodations for these visits to take place. 

The WA State Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s office has issued a memo attached to all LTC facilities with questions and answers about the essential support person.  If you have any questions regarding this new law, please reach out to Patricia Hunter stateombuds@multi-servicecenter.com

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August 5, 2021