Reaching the conclusion that a parent requires the level of care that can only be provided by a nursing home is rarely easy. You may feel like you are failing your parent and/or taking away their autonomy. Once you do acknowledge the need for nursing home care, however, you will undoubtedly spend a considerable amount of time and effort finding the best facility for your parent. Imagine that after all that soul searching and difficult decision-making being told that your parent is being evicted from the nursing home you chose. Can the nursing home do that? Let’s see how and when a resident can be evicted from a nursing home.
Nursing Home Laws and Oversight
When a resident enters a nursing home, he/she does not check all rights at the door. On the contrary, residents of a nursing home retain numerous rights. Those rights, along with other issues related to nursing home care, are governed by both federal and state laws. Among the most important of those laws is the federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law (NHRL). The NHRL guarantees nursing home residents several important rights and requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.” If a nursing homes wishes to participate in the Medicare and/or Medicaid program – programs that pay the bill for over half of all current nursing home residents – a facility must meet federal residents’ rights requirements. California, along with many other states, also has state laws that reinforce federal laws and/or provide additional rights and protections to nursing home residents. The Nursing Home Reform Law delineates specific reasons why a nursing home resident may be evicted, including:
- The discharge is necessary for the resident’s welfare and his or her needs cannot be met in the facility.
- The resident’s health has improved and no longer needs the facility’s services.
- The resident is endangering the safety of others.
- The resident is endangering the health of others.
- The resident has failed to pay for (or to have paid under Medicare or Medicaid) a stay at the facility.
- The facility ceases to operate.
If the nursing home does have a valid, legal reason for discharging a resident, the facility is still required to follow the appropriate discharge procedures which include providing notice to the resident at least 30 days prior to the proposed discharge, except in extremely specific circumstances. The notice must include:
- The reason or reasons for the discharge – the reason must also be documented by a physician in the resident’s medical records.
- The effective date of the discharge.
- The location where the resident will be transferred to.
- The procedures and timeline for appealing the discharge.
- Information about the resident’s right to appeal, including the name, address, and phone number of the state’s long-term care ombudsman. The facility must send a copy of the transfer or discharge notice to the local long-term care ombudsman.
The 30 days written notice requirements does not apply if any of the following do apply:
- When the health or safety of other individuals would be endangered
- The resident’s health improves sufficiently to allow a more immediate transfer or discharge.
- The resident’s urgent medical needs require a more immediate transfer or discharge.
- The resident has resided in the facility less than 30 days.
Please download our FREE estate planning checklist. While our firm does not presently handle concerns about being evicted from a nursing home, we do handle many elder law planning issues. You can contact us by (916)-437-3500 or by filling out our online contact form.