The new law is meant to help nursing home residents understand the reasons for their discharge, and inform them of their rights to appeal.
Threat of eviction is one of the biggest problems facing California’s nursing home residents. Residents often don’t even know why they’re being forcibly discharged.
A new state law taking effect today seeks to rectify this with a simple change: nursing homes are now required to offer residents copies of any information that explains why they’re being evicted.
That includes providing copies of the discharge plan and the date, place and names of witnesses to any incidents related to the discharge. In some places, it could also include information about why the facility can not meet the resident’s needs.
“It’s a very minor burden on the facilities to give residents copies of information that they’re already having to create or document,” said Tony Chicotel, a staff attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, the bill’s sponsor. “Now residents have information to see if this seems legitimate.”
The bill had no registered opposition.
Each year, California’s nursing homes serve about 450,000 residents, many of them medically fragile. Most of the time, Chicotel said, these residents are happy to receive a discharge notice; it could mean they get to go home.
But some don’t feel ready, or don’t have a safe place to land. According to data provided by Chicotel’s organization, evictions are one of the most common complaints reported to California’s Long Term Care Ombudsman programs. In the past five years, the state’s nursing homes have also been cited more than 1,800 times for problems with discharges.
Chicotel says the additional information residents will receive can help them understand the facility’s reasoning, and possibly file an appeal.
“Very few residents know about their appeal rights or feel confident to exercise them,” Chicotel said. “This may give them a little more confidence.”