I regularly receive calls from frantic adult children with news that a parent is being involuntarily discharged from assisted living or a nursing home. (For the purpose of this article, I am using these two terms interchangeably.) It is a worrisome development, and the adult child wants to know how to handle it.
First, it is important to get the facts from the nursing home. If you have a relationship with someone there, call and find out why your parent is being discharged. If you do not know anyone, then it might depend on the length of residency at the home. If your parent recently moved in, call the admission person and ask who can help you. If your parent is a “long-term” resident of the nursing home, contact the social worker or nurse who interacts with your parent.
After you have some facts, meet with an elder law attorney immediately. If the nursing home has given you anything in writing about the discharge, it is important to provide a copy to the attorney. Under most circumstances, assisted living and nursing homes are required to give your parent 30 days written notice of involuntary discharge. It is important not to wait until day 29 to call the elder law attorney. The attorney will want as much time as possible so an appeal can be sought and/or a new home can be secured. If an appeal is filed, there will be a hearing and your parent can not be discharged from their home until the judge makes a final decision.
Before your parent leaves the residence, a written discharge plan must be developed to outline future care, and it must be given to him or her before a discharge or transfer occurs.
In some circumstances the 30 days written notice is not required. For example, I once had a client (let’s call him Frank) who hit another resident, and the staff wanted Frank removed from the home within a couple of days. It made sense that the staff would want to discharge Frank ASAP because he was a danger to the other residents. On the other hand, Frank had been living there for a year and had never been violent before. Due to a medication change, Frank became violent. We took steps such as explaining the violence to the staff and hiring a caregiver to be with Frank, which allowed us more time to find a suitable place to transfer him.
For more information please contact me at 301-251-1180 x 310 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.