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We are planning to establish a family council. Do we have the right to meet remotely via Zoom?

Dear Advocate:

Me and my family members are increasingly concerned about care and staffing problems at my mother’s skilled nursing facility during the pandemic. We are planning to establish a family council to help address our concerns. Do we have the right to meet remotely via Zoom?

Concerned in Concord

Dear Concerned in Concord:

Yes. Family councils can meet in the setting and manner of their choice. It is perfectly permissible to meet online through video conferencing apps like Zoom. Due to visitation restrictions right now, family councils are not able to meet inside facilities as would be their right outside of the current emergency orders. Family councils are needed now more than ever to help address the isolation, care, staffing and safety concerns that have intensified during the pandemic. California has among the strongest laws in the nation on family councils in nursing homes. The law gives family members the right to meet privately and prohibits interference with the formation, maintenance or promotion of a family council. You can learn more about the purpose and rights of family councils by reading CANHR’s family council fact sheet and our guide to organizing family councils.