Whether you are a senior yourself, or are the loved one of an older individual, issues surrounding the laws and procedures followed by nursing homes will inevitably be important at some point in time. As the older population in the United States continues to grow rapidly, nursing homes have been in the spotlight as a result of seemingly endless claims of neglect and abuse. Another concern for residents of a nursing home is the facility’s ability to evict or involuntarily discharge a resident. To help clear up when and how a nursing home can legally evict a resident, the Grand Forks elder law lawyers at German Law explain some of the rights you have as a resident of a nursing home.
Your Federal and State Nursing Home Rights
Nursing homes are governed by both federal and state laws. Among the most important of those is the federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law (NHRL). The NHRL guarantees nursing home residents a number of important rights and requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.” Specifically, as a nursing home resident, you have:
- The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect;
- The right to freedom from physical restraints;
- The right to privacy;
- The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs;
- The right to participate in resident and family groups;
- The right to be treated with dignity;
- The right to exercise self-determination;
- The right to communicate freely;
- The right to participate in the review of one’s care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility; and
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.
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. Most states, including North Dakota, also have state level laws that protect nursing home residents. The Nursing Home Reform Law delineates very 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.
In addition to your rights under the NHRL, the State of North Dakota also provides nursing home residents with rights with regard to transfer or discharge from the facility. For example, if there is going to be a change from your current room or you are to be transferred, the following rights apply:
- You must receive prompt notice of a change in your room or roommate.
- The facility must inform you, and a family member or legal resident representative if they are transferring or discharging you.
- The facility must prepare you for a safe and orderly transfer or discharge from the facility.
Moreover, a facility cannot transfer or discharge you from the facility against your wishes, unless it is for the following reasons:
- Your doctor documents your needs cannot be met by the facility
- Your doctor documents your health has improved so you no longer need the facility’s services.
- The safety and welfare, of individuals in the facility is threatened.
- Non-payment of your bill, whether by you or outside paying source; however, if you have an application pending with a third-party payer (such as Medicaid) there must be a denial of the claim before this applies,
- The facility ceases to operate.
- During times of remodel – can be temporary only.
If the nursing home does plan to transfer or discharge you, the facility must, except in very limited circumstances, provide you with a 30 day written notice stating the following information:
- The reasons for the transfer or discharge.
- The effective date of the transfer or discharge.
- The location to which you are being transferred or discharged.
- Your right to appeal/challenge the transfer or discharge.
- The name, address, and phone number of the Ombudsman program, Developmental Disabilities Advocate, or Mental Health Advocate.
The limited circumstances that allow the facility to avoid the 30-day written notice requirement include:
- The resident has urgent medical needs that require a more immediate transfer or discharge or,
- A more immediate transfer or discharge is required to protect the health and safety of residents and staff within the facility.
Contact Grand Forks Elder Law Lawyers
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about nursing home eviction, discharge, or transfer procedures in North Dakota, contact the Grand Forks elder law lawyers at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.