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My long-term care facility wants to discharge me.

Read this in: Spanish / Español
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project

Read this to learn what your rights are when the long-term care facility you are living in doesn't want you to live there anymore. #5602EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, if you live in a long-term care facility, including a nursing home, assisted living facility, or adult family home, in Washington State, and you got a notice saying you have to leave or go to another facility. If you want to stay, you may have options to fight ("appeal") the notice and proposed discharge.

*In this fact sheet, we say "long-term care facility" to refer to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult family homes. If you aren't sure what kind of facility you live in, check out Words and Phrases You Should Know below.  

*Your notice might say you are being "discharged" or "transferred". In this fact sheet, we use the term "discharge" for both.

Yes. The Washington State Long-Term Care Resident Rights Act says nursing home resident rights apply to residents of all long-term care facilities. You can read where the law says this at RCW (Revised Code of Washington) 70.129.005.  

 Your long-term care facility can only discharge you for these reasons:

  • They can no longer provide the care you need.

  • Your health improved and you no longer need their services.

  • You have created a health or safety risk to yourself or other residents.

  • You have not paid for your stay.

  • They are closing.

The long-term care facility must provide proof that the reasons for discharge are true. The proof is usually medical assessments from your doctor or other medical providers.

Yes. Before they can discharge you, they must try to accommodate you so you can stay. The accommodation must be "reasonable." They need to write down in your file the ways they tried to accommodate you.

Yes. They have to help you with discharge planning. This means they must provide enough preparation and orientation to make sure your discharge is safe and orderly.

Discharge planning includes finding a place for you to go after discharge, making sure there is room for you at the new place, and making sure the new place can provide the care you need. They must write down their discharge plan in your file.

Yes. They must give you and your immediate family member or legal representative a written notice of transfer or discharge.

The written notice must be in a language you and your representatives can understand.

The notice must say:

  • Why they are discharging you and list one of the reasons discussed above;

  • When they will discharge you;

  • Where you will go to live after they discharge you, including contact info for the new location and a statement that the new location has agreed to accept you;

  • How you can appeal the discharge with the Office of Administrative Hearings;

  • How to contact the Washington State Long Term Care Ombuds for help;

  • How to contact the Home and Community Services (HCS) offices if you get Medicaid to help pay for your care; and

  • How to contact Disability Rights Washington if you have a diagnosis of mental illness or intellectual disability.

 

They must give it to you at least 30 days before the intended discharge, unless an emergency requires a shorter time.

Yes. Your discharge notice should tell you how to appeal the discharge by asking for an appeal hearing. If this information is missing from your discharge notice, you can still contact the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings and tell them you want to appeal a discharge from a long-term care facility:

 

OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
PO BOX 42489
OLYMPIA WA 98504-2489
Phone: 1-800-583-8271
Fax: 360-586-6563

Yes. You must ask for an appeal hearing any time up to 90 days from the date you got the discharge notice. But if you want to stay in your long-term care facility until your appeal is decided, you must appeal before the date of discharge in the notice.

 

If you contact the Office of Administrative Hearings to appeal before the proposed discharge date in your notice, you can stay in your long-term care facility until your appeal is complete, unless your presence will endanger your health or safety or the health or safety of other residents.

 

Yes. Your facility cannot discharge you until they follow the rules. Discharging you without written notice is against the rules.

It will depend on the reasons your long-term care facility gives for your discharge. Some examples of reasons you might appeal the discharge include:

  • The discharge notice does not have all the required information discussed above in "Does the long-term care facility have to give me written notice of transfer or discharge?" on page 2, above.

  • Your long-term care facility did not follow all the required procedures.

  • They say they cannot meet your needs, even though your conditions have not changed since your admission to the long-term care facility.

  • They say they cannot meet your needs, but they did not try to reasonably accommodate or address your needs before giving you a discharge notice. They reasonably could have done more.

  • They have listed a new location for you to live in the discharge notice, but the new location:

    • was not notified of your long-term care facility's plan to move you there;

    • did not agree you can move there;

    • does not have room for you;

    • cannot give you the level of care you need; or

    • cannot provide a higher level of care than your current long-term care facility.

The hearing usually takes place over the phone, but it might be in person at your long-term care facility. An administrative law judge (ALJ) runs the hearing.

Usually, the long-term care facility gives their side of the story first. If they have witnesses, you can ask the witnesses questions.

After the long-term care facility finishes their presentation, the ALJ will ask for your side of the story. You can testify, have witnesses testify on your behalf, and offer documents and other evidence to prove your case.

The administrative law judge (ALJ) will usually not make a decision on the day of the hearing. They will make a decision later and write it down in an Order. The ALJ will send the Order to you, your family or representative, and your facility. If you disagree with the ALJ's Order, you can challenge or appeal it. Instructions about how to appeal the ALJ's Order will be included with the Order.

Your facility can go ahead with your discharge 30 days after the final order is entered.

If you are still living in your long-term care facility, you can stay.

If you are not living in your long-term care facility, you have a right to be readmitted immediately upon the first available bed in a semi-private room.

If you have been hospitalized and expect to return to your long-term care facility, they can only refuse to let you come back if they follow the rules stated above. You can appeal their decision by contacting the Office of Administrative Hearings.

The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program supports residents of long-term care facilities.  Their purpose is to protect and promote residents' rights.  They can answer your questions and provide help regarding the notice of discharge. They can address complaints about nursing homes and share information with you about your residents' rights.

Each county has a regional ombudsman.  The State Long-Term Care Ombudsman's website is www.waombudsman.org. Their phone number is 1-800-562-6028; TTY Users: 1-800-737-7931.

Adult Family Home: This is a regular neighborhood home where staff provide meals, laundry, supervision and varying levels of assistance with care to residents. Some adult family homes offer specialized care for people with mental health disabilities, developmental disabilities or dementia. An adult family home can have 2 to 6 residents and is licensed by the state.

Assisted Living Facility: This is a facility in a community setting where staff provide meals, laundry, supervision, and varying levels of assistance with care to residents. Some assisted living facilities offer specialized care for people with mental health disabilities, developmental disabilities, or dementia. An assisted living facility can have 7 or more residents and is licensed by the state.

Nursing Home: This is a facility for the residential care of older adults or disabled people. Nursing homes provide 24-hour supervised nursing care, personal care, therapy, nutrition management, organized activities, social services, room, board and laundry.

Washington State Long Term Care Resident Rights Act: This law protects the rights of residents in all long-term care facilities in Washington State. You can read it online or in your local law library in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 70.129.

  • Outside King County, call the CLEAR Hotline at 1-888-201-1014 weekdays between 9:15 am - 12:15 pm. Seniors (age 60 and over) can also call CLEAR*Sr at 1-888-387-7111.

  • In King County, call the NJP General Information line at 1-888-201-1012 weekdays between 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

  • Apply online with CLEAR*Online

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Last Review and Update: Jul 21, 2022
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