Although we often prefer not to think about it, the reality is that as we age, so do our parents. If you have a parent whose physical and/or mental health is such that he/she requires the type of care that can only be provided by a nursing home, you undoubtedly worry about the quality of that care. One thing you may not be worrying about – until it happens – is your parent being evicted from the facility. The Oklahoma City elder law attorneys at Parman & Easterday explain under what circumstances your parent can be evicted from a nursing home and how that eviction must be handled if it does occur.
Are There Laws Governing Nursing Homes?
Residents of a nursing home retain a number of important legal rights. Those rights, along with other issues related to nursing home care, are governed by both federal and state laws. Among the most important of those laws 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.” If a nursing home 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. Oklahoma, along with many other states, also has state laws that reinforce federal laws and/or provide additional rights and protections to nursing home residents. The federal 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.
If the nursing home does have a valid, legal reason for discharging a resident, the facility is still required to follow the appropriate discharge procedures which include providing notice to the resident at least 30 days prior to the proposed discharge, except in very specific circumstances. The notice must include:
- the reason or reasons for the discharge – the reason must also be documented by a physician in the resident’s medical records
- the effective date of the discharge
- the location where the resident will be transferred to
- the procedures and timeline for appealing the discharge
- information about the resident’s right to appeal, including the name, address and phone number of the state’s long-term care ombudsman. The facility must send a copy of the transfer or discharge notice to the local long-term care ombudsman.
The 30 days written notice requirements does not apply if any of the following do apply:
- when the health or safety of other individuals would be endangered
- the resident’s health improves sufficiently to allow a more immediate transfer or discharge
- the resident’s urgent medical needs require a more immediate transfer or discharge
- the resident has resided in the facility less than 30 days
Can I Do Anything If My Mother Was Wrongfully Evicted?
If you believe that your mother or father was wrongfully evicted from a nursing home, or you have reason to believe that a wrongful eviction is about to take place, you are not helpless. One option is to file a complaint with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Long Term Care Service which is the agency responsible for overseeing long-term care facilities throughout the State of Oklahoma. In addition, you should consult with an experienced elder law attorney to discuss your legal options. You may have the basis for a civil lawsuit against the facility.
Contact Oklahoma City Elder Law Attorneys
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have parent, or other loved one, who you believe is at risk for being evicted from a nursing home (or who has already been evicted), contact the experienced Oklahoma City elder law attorneys at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 or 913-385-9400 to schedule your appointment today.