Involuntary nursing home discharges and transfers are a legitimate problem in the United States. According to the States’ Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs (LTCOP), one of their top 5 complaints is inadequate discharge planning or improper evictions from nursing home facilities. In fact, annually there are approximately 14,000 complaints of this sort that the LTCOP attempts to resolve. The reasons for involuntary nursing home discharges and transfers vary but may be a result of residents requiring a higher level of care than the nursing home feels equipped to handle, and more commonly, may be due to the end of Medicare coverage.
Nursing home discharges and evictions can of course be a hugely stressful time for residents and their families. It’s important that residents and their families are aware of the resident’s legally protected rights and the steps that they can take to ensure the best-informed choices for their long-term care.
“What is a legitimate and legal nursing home discharge? As a family member, how can you protect your loved one throughout a nursing home’s eviction process? What are the resident’s rights?”
As part of VOYCE’s Community Education Series, Chien Y. Hung, Program Director of VOYCE presented a webinar on these important topics.
What You Need to Know About Leaving a Nursing Home BEFORE You Move In
Discharges – The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that we all have good intentions, we want to protect residents and ensure their wellbeing. If a long-term care facility intends to discharge a resident for a particular reason, there are guidelines that must be followed. It’s important that these guidelines are followed and that staff, residents, and their families have a good understanding of how the discharges should be delivered.
Long term-care facilities have a legal obligation to follow the guidelines prescribed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. These guidelines must be followed as set out in the Licensure Regulations Manual – ‘19 CSR 30-82-50 Transfer and Discharge Procedures’.
There are countless reasons why a nursing home may legitimately need to (or unfairly want to) discharge a senior but they must always follow the guidelines and adhere to the regulations.
Leaving a facility – Voluntary and Involuntary Leaving
There are two different kinds of leaving a facility – voluntary and involuntary.
Voluntary discharge is when a resident decides to discharge themselves. While no discharge letter is used, the facility still needs to complete adequate discharge planning. Depending on the policies of the facility, the resident may also need to notify the facility in advance.
Involuntary leaving of a facility is a common occurrence and can be a confusing and upsetting time for residents and their families. It is important that residents and their families are aware of the resident’s rights in order to ensure that everything happens legally. Facilities have a responsibility to ensure that they operate within the confines of the regulations and to offer a discharge letter to the resident.
An emergency discharge is usually carried out for one of the following reasons:
- The safety of individuals in the facility is endangered
- The health of individuals in the facility is endangered
- The resident’s health has improved sufficiently so the resident no longer needs the services provided by the facility
- An immediate transfer or discharge is required by the resident’s urgent medical needs
- The resident has not resided in the facility for thirty (30 days)
- An emergency discharge is resulted from an argument, drastic incident, and this kind of discharge needs to be issued ASAP
Proper Discharge Letter
A written discharge notice must be provided to the resident in a ‘language and manner’ understood by the resident and representative(S) and must include:
- The reason for the transfer/discharge
- The proposed effective date
- The location to which the resident will be transferred or discharged
- Information on the resident’s appeal rights
- Contact info for the long-term care ombudsman program and (if applicable) the agencies responsible for advocacy on behalf of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or persons with mental disorders
Where to turn for help?
Our ombudsmen are available to advocate for any concerns you or your loved one have about your experience with long-term care.
If you feel like your resident rights are not being upheld, we are here.