What are Nursing Home Involuntary Discharges? (Video)

This video from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia provides information on your rights and federal protections when a nursing home facility tells you that you must leave.


Transcript of Video:

What are nursing home involuntary discharges?

Being discharged from a nursing home can be traumatic. You may feel that you still need care in a nursing facility, or worry that the location the nursing home wants to send you to can’t meet your needs. It is important to know that you have rights and federal protections when a facility tells you that you must leave. This video reviews those rights and discusses strategies to try to prevent involuntary discharges.

There are only 6 reasons a facility can legally discharge you if you don’t want to leave. You can only be discharged if:

  1. The facility cannot meet your needs and you need the kind of care provided in a different type of facility.
  2. You are well enough that you no longer need the level of care provided by the nursing facility.
  3. You pose a danger to the safety of people in the facility (either staff or other residents).
  4. Your presence poses a danger to the health of people in the facility .
  5. You are not paying; or Medicare or Medicaid is not paying for your stay.
    -If your Medicare coverage is running out, the facility will provide a Medicare Notice of Non Coverage. This is just a notice stating that your coverage is running out. It is NOT A DISCHARGE NOTICE. You can appeal the notice to try and have your Medicare coverage continue.
    -If your Medicare does run out, you may be able to get Medicaid coverage to pay for you to stay in the facility, if you meet the Medicaid eligibility requirements. Do not let the facility bully you into leaving because of a Medicare notice of non coverage, they must provide you with their own notice if they plan to discharge you.
  6. The facility closes.

Nursing facilities are not legally allowed to involuntarily discharge a resident unless at least one of these things is true.

The facility must give you a written notice of discharge. If you’ve been in a nursing facility for over a month, the notice must be given to you at least 30 days before you have to leave. They cannot just tell you to leave, or give you a discharge letter with less than 30 days notice.

The written notice of discharge has to have a lot of specific information (if it is missing any of this information, the discharge is not legal):

  1. ) the reason for discharge (which must be one of the 6 reasons we talked about before),
  2. ) the date the discharge will happen, (which in most cases has to be 30 days or more from the day you receive the letter)
  3. ) the exact location to which you will be discharged. Nursing homes are only allowed to discharge residents to places that are safe and can meet their needs. They can’t send you back to your home if it would not be safe for you for any reason, or if you won’t have the support and care you need at home. Nursing facilities can’t discharge residents with disabilities to places that cannot meet the resident’s needs, such as homeless shelters, boarding homes or motels.
  4. ) an explanation that you have the right to appeal the discharge and information about how to file an appeal,
  5. ) the name, address, and phone number of the state long term care ombudsman and
  6. ) if you have a developmental disability or behavioral health issues, the contact information of the state protection and advocacy agency.

If any of these things are missing from the notice, the notice is not complying with the law.

If you are being discharged against your will, you can appeal it for any reason, including if the notice is late or missing information. Look out for more videos on how to appeal a nursing home discharge.

If you want legal representation in the appeals process, or are not sure if your nursing home discharge is legal or not, contact the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) at (800) 322-7572 or online at https://palegalaid.net/ to see if you can get free legal help. You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging and ask them for information about legal assistance for older adults in your area.

Another important resource is the long term care ombudsman. The ombudsman’s job is to advocate for the rights of nursing home residents, and they can help you appeal a nursing home discharge. To find your local long term care ombudsman, you can call your Area Agency on Aging or the state ombudsman office at 717-783-8975.

Philadelphia residents can also contact Community Legal Services. We take new cases about nursing home discharges and other related issues on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 am-noon at 1410 W. Erie Ave.


Last Review and Update: Feb 23, 2022
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