Living in a nursing home can provide challenges for seniors and their families. Many nursing homes have a reputation for being impersonal and drab. In the United States, many nursing homes struggle with understaffing and overpopulation. In fact, 54% of nursing homes currently fail to meet the recommended two hours of care a day from nurses aides. This can make it even more difficult for you to make the decision to send your loved one to a nursing home. One of the biggest problems that nursing home residents face is mistreatment–either through neglect or unfair policies and since many seniors have no one to advocate for them, nursing homes are getting away with it.
Facing The Music
According to national statistics, concerns about being evicted are the leading complaint filed by residents. Known as involuntary discharge, eviction from a nursing home is relatively common, and not always pursued for legitimate reasons. In fact, in one case a nursing home was found to be evicting residents who were transitioning from Medicare to Medicaid since Medicare pays nursing homes a lot more than Medicaid.
Sadly, even when a nursing home has been accused of unfairly evicting a senior there is not much the government can do. They cannot require the home to take the senior back, nor can they force the center to make reparations, since apparently the department that makes the decision on the legality of evictions cannot enforce its own rulings.
The Rights Of Seniors
Seniors who reside in nursing homes have a collection of rights that we expect will be followed when we enroll our loved ones into a skilled nursing facility. State and federal laws require that
- Residents receive 30 days notice before they are moved involuntarily from a nursing home
- Nursing homes must hold a senior’s bed for one week if he is admitted to the hospital
- Seniors cannot be evicted from a residential facility for refusing to sign a new admission agreement
- Seniors cannot be evicted in retaliation for requesting an inspection or filing a complaint with the Ombudsman Department
Unfortunately, these policies don’t always translate into real life. One example has led to the filing of a lawsuit in California.
Gloria Single was 82 when she was evicted from a California nursing home after a short psychological evaluation Sutter Medical Center. The nursing home administration claimed that she was released because she was a danger to other residents; this after she had yelled at a nurse and thrown plastic spoons in the cafeteria. But the eviction was suspicious since she was released from the hospital the same day of the evaluation. Because she couldn’t return to the nursing home, she was stuck in the hospital for nearly one month, receiving none of the therapeutic services that she had been getting at the nursing home. She lost her ability to walk.
What makes this story even worse is the fact that Gloria’s husband, 93-year-old Bill, is also a resident at that nursing home, and now he has been split from his wife for weeks.
New Regulations Lead To Encouraging Possibilities
In 2015, nursing home administrators were faced with their first industry-wide regulation changes since 1991. Among the changes that these new regulations promote is a more personalized experience for seniors. This includes allowing seniors the freedom to choose roommates and eat when they want to. It also prohibits the eviction of seniors for invalid reasons and puts more power into the hands of family members who want to appeal an eviction. While the new regulations will take years to be phased in completely, there is hope that what happened to Gloria Single cannot happen to your loved one in the future.