Resident evictions from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are becoming a more prominent issue, as legal actions involving the matter make national headlines.
The recent case of California resident Gloria Single is a clear example of what happens when a resident and the skilled nursing facility (SNF) where the patient resides become involved in a legal battle over allegedly improper evictions.
A recent Skilled Nursing News article, "What SNFs Should Know About Proper Protocols for Resident Eviction," reports that the whole eviction and proceeding appeals process can be daunting, and residents are often so intimidated by the process that when they receive an eviction notice, they just pick up and leave. They’re too afraid to do anything else.
There are legal procedures that SNF residents can take to contest an eviction. In addition, there are proper protocols that SNFs must follow, if they decide to discharge a resident.
The federal Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) applies to any nursing facility that accepts reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid, or both. Under the Act, patients have certain rights as residents of a nursing facility. The law also requires that a transfer or discharge of a patient is allowed only for one of these six reasons:
- The resident needs a higher level of care;
- The resident no longer needs nursing facility care;
- The resident has endangered others’ safety;
- The resident endangers other residents’ health;
- A failure to pay; or
- The SNF is closing.
The SNF must give notice why a patient is being discharged, the proposed effective date, the location where he/she is going to be transferred or discharged, the residents’ appeal rights, and contact information for agencies that could assist the resident. It’s not uncommon for SNFs to discharge residents when they need a higher level of care than the property is able to provide. However, for an SNF to make this claim, it must provide documentation to make their case, such as the needs that it allegedly can’t meet, its attempt to meet those needs, and the ability of the proposed receiving facility to meet those needs. The SNF must also have a detailed transfer/discharge plan out for the patient, which should be included in the resident’s care plan.
Some SNFs will use improper justifications in which they attribute residents’ “behaviors” when their behaviors are the completely anticipated result of their medical condition like dementia. SNFs must remain cognizant of their ability to care for patients with special needs, like dementia.
Reference: Skilled Nursing News (December 17, 2017) "What SNFs Should Know About Proper Protocols for Resident Eviction"
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