In some ways, nursing home residents are similar to private tenants. Both pay fees, both sign contracts, and in certain situations, both can be evicted. However, nursing home residents and and residential renters also share another trait in common: if they are evicted without just cause, the legality of the eviction can be challenged. In this article, nursing home abuse lawyer Brent Wieand will explain when nursing homes are (and aren’t) allowed to evict residents, and what you should do if you think your loved one was unfairly discharged or transferred from his or her nursing home facility.

Reasons a Resident Can Be Evicted from a Nursing Home

As the relative of an elderly person who has been admitted into professional care, it’s important for you to understand that nursing home admission is neither permanent nor guaranteed. However, while admission and residency are conditional, nursing homes cannot simply evict patients on a whim.

On the contrary, nursing homes can only discharge patients under a specific set of circumstances, which we will discuss shortly. Moreover, the evicting facility must follow certain discharge procedures. We will cover these procedures a little later in this article. For the time being, let’s identify when nursing home eviction is allowed.

There are four major reasons nursing homes can evict a resident:

  • The resident exhibits dangerous behaviors which jeopardize the health and safety of staff members and/or other residents in the home. In this situation, the resident would have to be transferred to another facility with the resources necessary to safely and effectively manage his or her dangerous behaviors.
  • The resident’s medical condition worsens significantly. If the original home lacks the medical resources needed to provide the resident with an appropriate care regiment, the home cannot then continue to endanger the resident by knowingly providing insufficient or substandard care. Unfortunately, this issue is widespread. In fact, nursing home neglect is a major component in most personal injury and wrongful death cases against nursing homes.
  • The resident’s medical condition significantly improves. In these situations, the nursing home may argue that care is no longer necessary and that existing resources would be better directed toward seniors with more serious health problems.

elderly woman at nursing home window

When is it Illegal for Nursing Homes to Evict Patients?

Nursing homes cannot evict residents for the following reasons:

  • A resident demands to know how their security deposit will be used and/or returned.
  • A resident asks for information about his or her condition, or asks to see his or her own medical records.
  • A resident asks for service charges to be itemized.
  • A resident voices grievances to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman or other state or federal government offices. Complaining about the quality of care is not justifiable legal grounds for nursing home eviction.

Every single one of the “reasons for eviction” listed above are expressly banned under Pennsylvania law. New Jersey state laws provide nursing home residents with similar legal rights. Additionally, the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act (FNHRA) gives nursing home residents even more legal protection on the national level. Crucially, the FNHRA grants residents the right to remain in a home of their choosing, as long as the resident does not jeopardize other people, stop paying for care, or experience a significant health decline.

If a nursing home does intend to evict a patient, the evicting facility must follow obey the discharge procedures observed by the state in which it is located. For example, Pennsylvania law requires that all residents must be given at least 30 days’ advance written notice of a pending discharge. This requirement also applies to residents who are being transferred to other facilities. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, residents have the right to appeal (challenge) an involuntary discharge. Regardless of where the resident is located, the facility must prepare a written discharge plan, which should outline both (1) the effects and considerations of the transfer, and (2) the type of care the resident will receive at his or her new facility.

nurse with elderly patient

If you have any doubts or concerns about the transfer or discharge process, it is always worth consulting with an experienced attorney as to your legal rights. Don’t assume that the nursing home has your best financial interests in mind, or that a discharge is even legal. A nursing home attorney can determine whether or not the nursing home’s actions comply with state and federal laws. Your loved one’s legal rights may have been violated, even if you aren’t aware of it yet.

To start discussing your concerns in a free and completely private case evaluation, call attorney Brent Wieand right away at (800) 481-5206. Our phone lines are always open.