Last week my phone rang, it was the daughter of a client. She had an emergency. An unofficial Rothkoff Law Group motto is “There are no elder law emergencies…for us. But for the families we work with, there are.” The emergency was that mom, in need of long-term nursing home care, was soon to be discharged from a local nursing home because they had no “long-term care beds available”. The facility was recommending a variety of other nursing home options. The family was very pleased with the care the community provided. She and her siblings also lived nearby and would be able to visit frequently (when visitations begin again). The family wished for mom to remain there.
After speaking with the daughter for a bit, I looped in our Elder Care Coordinator, Tina Kane. Together, Tina and I spoke with the facility to obtain additional information about the reason for the proposed discharge.
The Nursing Home Reform allows a nursing home to discharge a resident for only six reasons:
(i) the facility cannot meet the resident’s needs
(ii) the resident no longer needs nursing facility services;
(iii) the resident puts others’ safety in danger;
(iv) the resident puts others’ health at risk;
(v) the resident fails to pay; or
(vi) the facility is closing.
The purported reason for the discharge was “only short-term rehab beds, no long-term care beds, are available” in the facility. Unfortunately, this was inaccurate. All beds in a nursing home that accepts Medicaid and Medicare are both short-term and long-term care beds. Certainly, some facilities place short-term residents in rooms conveniently located to the rehabilitation center but doing so does not change the designation of the room to “short-term only”.
I discussed this concept with the facility staff, along with why the family preferred for their mother to remain in the facility for long-term care. Tina spoke with the facility staff about a possible transition to another room, which is acceptable. Our conversation successfully quelled the concerns the facility expressed, and Mom will continue residing in the community.
Without our intervention mom would likely have transitioned to another facility; perhaps one that the family would not have been as satisfied with or would have been further for the family to travel. The goals of the families work with become our goals as their elder care advocates. Here, we were able to reach a positive outcome for all parties involved through advocacy and communication.