Nursing home evictions are an issue for many elderly people. Reports of evictions and complaints against nursing homes attempting to evict patients are widespread. Nursing homes are businesses and eviction problems often occur for residents when financial issues arise.
There are federal regulations concerning nursing home evictions. However, it is largely dependent on the state to enforce these regulations. Some residents or their families choose to fight back with complaints and legal action. Unfortunately, many of these cases go unreported as is the case with other types of elder abuse.
Nursing homes do have guidelines that allow for evictions in certain cases. A resident may be evicted but the facility must follow the minimum guidelines of federal and state law to be successful. One reason an elderly person may be evicted is if their clinical or behavioral status puts others in the facility in danger. This is one of the reasons often cited for discharging patients involuntarily.
Force discharges are also commonly attributed to the patient’s care not being paid. This can happen when private pay patients run out of resources and fall back on enrollment in Medicaid. This program pays substantially less for the same service and the home is looking to replace this lost income. Another common trigger for eviction notices occurs when Medicare patients change from being a patient under the Medicare program to requalifying under Medicaid. This transition can mean a reduction in the resources the facility is being paid.
Involuntary discharge can also occur if the facility is unable to meet the resident’s needs or if it is necessary for the resident’s welfare. A patient’s needs and the facility’s ability to meet those needs should be assessed before the person is admitted to the facility. For this reason, the inability to meet a patient’s needs should be a rare reason for discharge. If it is determined that the person no longer needs the care the nursing home provides, they can be discharged. Finally, if the facility is closing, patients can be legally discharged.
It is important for residents and their families to do their homework and be informed about the regulations governing nursing homes. Not only must nursing homes follow these regulations, but they must also follow strict procedural guidelines in order to evict. If these guidelines are not strictly followed, the discharge can be reversed. If a resident is threatened with eviction, this must be done in writing and must include a written reason for the eviction. If you or your family receives a discharge notice, contact an elder law attorney immediately.
Even if the resident does not want to stay in that particular facility, it is important to take the discharge notice to an attorney because it may affect the patient’s ability to get into another facility. The window for appeals is short so be sure to contact an attorney quickly in order to give the attorney time to build the case and file the appropriate documents. The Nursing Home Reform Act helps to protect residents. The problem is that many people are uniformed and miss their opportunity to appeal these evictions. Timely response is essential in these cases.
Living in a nursing home is a difficult experience for many patients and their families. A threat of eviction adds stress to the situation. The attorney is your best advocate as he or she is able to enforce the resident’s rights and protect them within mandatory time frames.
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