Five years ago my friend’s mother was in the hospital with flu-like symptoms and for some (still unknown) reason stopped breathing. After a nine day coma, she was diagnosed with anoxia. She cannot walk, is incontinent and is on a feeding tube. She has been in the same nursing home for the last three years. My friend visits as frequently as possible, but her mother is having anger issues and acting out on a fairly regular basis. Eventually, she met with the Social Services Director, who recommended she take her mother home and secure round-the-clock home health care. They also insinuated that since there is “nothing medically” wrong with her mother, the nursing home really doesn’t need to keep her. My friend has five children at home, and her husband works out of town 48 weeks per year. There is no possible way she can take care of her mother herself. She came to me asking if the nursing facility can legally “kick her mother out.”
In New Jersey, what skilled nursing facilities don’t want you to know is having admitted you into the building, it’s really difficult for a building to involuntarily transfer or discharge someone. Here are the reasons under federal law that allow for an involuntary discharge:
- endangers the safety or health of other individuals,
- has medical needs that no longer can be met by the facility,
- has recovered his or her health significantly so that care is no longer necessary
- has failed to pay for services, or
- the facility closes.
The State of New Jersey provides additional protections for residents in the regulations, making
it a difficult and cumbersome process to involuntarily discharge a resident. This is not to say that
the facility’s representatives won’t pressure the caregivers to voluntarily remove their loved ones.
They certainly will not give you any of this information. This is a situation where an experienced
elder law attorney can make an enormous difference in quality of life for you, your loved one,
and your entire family. If you get feedback from a skilled nursing or assisted living facility
regarding their plans for your loved one, it is critically important that you are aware of your
rights so you are able to advocate effectively for yourself and your family.