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When Nursing Homes Close: Your Rights Under Federal Law

In September 2017, Lincoln Manor Healthcare, a nursing home in Decatur, Illinois gave residents and staff 48 hours notice that they would be closing their doors due to the owner’s failure to pay bills to keep the doors open. Although employees of the facility initially told Decatur’s Herald & Review news that all family members and loved ones had been notified, several people report having no idea that their loved one was to be relocated until they received a phone call from another facility preparing to accept them as a resident transfer. 60 residents called Lincoln Manor their home at the time and sadness and fear were felt by many of the residents and their loved ones upon learning that they would suddenly be living somewhere new. So what are your rights as a nursing home resident or a loved one of someone who lives in a nursing home?

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, an organization committed to improving the quality of life for the elderly through advocacy and education, maintains an online database of useful information regarding many issues affecting the livelihood of nursing home residents, including what steps must be followed in the event of a nursing home closure. The topic deserves attention, as the frequency of nursing home closures has been on the rise in recent years.

Some of the federal rules imposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) include 60 days notice to CMS and residents of the intent to close the facility, as well as a plan for relocation. According to federal regulations, relocation plans are more than documentation that a new facility is willing to accept the resident. Instead, they should include comprehensive care plans that cover all aspects of their care, from medicines, to nutrition, to services such as physical and behavorial therapy. Nursing home transfers are notorious for allowing important information regarding resident care to fall through the cracks.

With the number of nursing homes shutting their doors on the rise, we encourage all nursing home residents and their loved ones to be armed with knowledge of their rights and federal regulations regarding nursing home closures and relocation. If you have a loved one who was transferred to a different facility and you believe there has been significant disruption to their care, please contact the Chicago elder law attorneys of Levin & Perconti. Consultations with our lawyers are free and confidential. Please, contact us now to discuss your rights under the law.