The concept of what an “essential caregiver” or “essential support person” is in a long-term care facility can actually be lost on people since it was only introduced during the pandemic. It’s not complicated. It is simply
a person chosen by a long-term care resident who may provide physical and/or emotional support to that resident and with whom in-person access may not be denied even in a health emergency provided they follow the policies and infection control protocols of the facility.
The facility staff does not provide the person and it’s not a medically trained person. It’s simply someone chosen by the resident to be there for physical or emotional support, especially during times when visitation is restricted or paused altogether.
Yet, only seven states have grasped the concept and put true Essential Caregiver statutes in place and while several others have adopted some form of guaranteed end-of-life or compassionate care visitation, most states remain silent on the issue of forced isolation "for safety" in long-term care facilities despite evidence of extreme harm experienced by residents who endured isolation protocols.
Texas was the first state to put comprehensive emergency guidelines in place that included Essential Caregivers. We adopted our statute in May of 2021 ahead of most, if not all the other states, and immedicately began working on putting together permanent Essential Caregiver guidlines in the Texas Administrative Code as required by that statue. Texas is still the ONLY state where long-term care residents have a CONSTITUTIONALRIGHT to access an essential caregiver even in a health emergency. Sec.35 Texas Bill of Rights
But why should long-term care residents to be forced to live and die in isolation in a health emergency simply because they were not fortunate enough to land in Texas?