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The Nursing Home Wants To Discharge Me

Questions and answers explaining when a nursing home can discharge or transfer you and your rights as a nursing home resident. #5202EN

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Should I read this?

Yes, if you live in a nursing home in the state of Washington.

*If you live in assisted living or an adult family home, some residents' rights laws will apply. State landlord-tenant law may also apply to your situation. For landlord-tenant law, see Your Rights as a Tenant in Washington.


The nursing home says they want me to leave. Can they discharge me (make me move out) without my consent?

Yes, but the only reasons a nursing home may try to discharge you without your agreement are:

  • You need the transfer or discharge for your welfare and the nursing home cannot meet your needs.

  • Your health is better. You no longer need the nursing home's services.

  • You pose a danger to other residents' safety or health.

  • You have not paid for your stay at the nursing home after they gave you reasonable notice.

  • The nursing home is closing.


The nursing home wants to discharge me for one of the allowed reasons. Do they need any proof that the reason is true?

Yes. Your own doctor must have documented it in your nursing home medical record if they base the reason on your own welfare and the nursing home cannot meet your needs, or your medical condition has improved and you no longer need nursing home services. The nursing home must document the needs it claims it cannot meet.  It must also document what they have done to try to meet those needs.  

If the nursing home says you pose a threat to other residents' health or safety, any medical doctor may document this in your medical record.

*The law requires a nursing home to problem-solve the reasons for your discharge and try to address them before they can discharge you.


Nursing homes must follow certain legal steps to discharge you. 

They must:

  • Give you and your immediate family member or a legal representative a written Notice of Transfer or Discharge. It must be in a language you and your family member or representative can understand.

  • Give you enough preparation and orientation to ensure a safe and orderly transfer or discharge.

  • Provide a post-discharge plan of care explaining what your care needs are, and how they will be met after your discharge. Read more about discharge planning below.


Usually, the nursing home must give you 30 days' advance notice of the date of discharge.

The nursing home does not have to give 30 days' notice if one of these is true:

  • Other residents' health or safety would be in danger.

  • You need the transfer or discharge.

  • You have urgent medical needs requiring a transfer or discharge.

  • You have not lived in the nursing home for 30 days. 


What information must be in the Notice of Transfer or Discharge? 

It must include the following:

  • Why the nursing home thinks you should be discharged.

  • When they want you to leave.

  • Where you will be living, including information on the specific location and that they have agreed to admit you.

  • If you have a diagnosis of a mental illness or an intellectual disability, contact information for Disability Rights Washington.

  • Your right to appeal and how to ask for an appeal.

  • Your right to represent yourself or have legal counsel, a relative, friend or other person represent you at the hearing.

  • How to contact the Washington State Long Term Care Ombudsman for help.


Can the nursing home transfer or discharge me for any reason?

No. Here are some reasons it cannot use to transfer or discharge you:

  • You are disruptive, argumentative, and/or obnoxious.

  • You do not follow nursing home policies or your care plan.

  • Caring for you is too hard or costs too much.

  • The nursing home could be sued because you got injured or accidentally injured someone else.

  • You refuse treatment.

  • You do not need the nursing home's specialized services.

  • Your Medicare eligibility ended.

  • You used up your savings and are now Medicaid-eligible.

  • Your Medicaid application is pending and the nursing home has not yet been paid.

  • The nursing home decided to withdraw from the Medicaid program.


I do not want them to transfer or discharge me. What can I do?

You can appeal.  The Notice of Transfer or Discharge must explain how you can appeal.  The nursing home is required by law to help you prepare and file an appeal request.


When should I appeal?

  • The notice should explain that you have up to 90 days to appeal the transfer or discharge. 

*If you appeal before the discharge or transfer date on the notice, or before you move out, the nursing home must suspend the transfer or discharge action until you have an appeal hearing, and an Administrative Law Judge decides if you have to move.

  • Even if you already moved out of the nursing home, you can still appeal the discharge up to 90 days from the day you received the Notice of Transfer or Discharge.


What happens at an appeal hearing?

Usually the hearing takes place in a conference room at the nursing home.  An administrative law judge (ALJ) runs the hearing. 

Typically, the nursing home gives their side of the story first.  If they have witnesses, you can ask them questions. 

After the nursing home 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.


Why would I fight a discharge?

It will depend on why the nursing home wants to discharge you.  A few examples include:

  • Their discharge notice did not give you all the information it was supposed to.

  • The nursing home did not follow all the required procedures.  

  • The nursing home says 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.

  • The place of discharge stated in the discharge notice:

    • Was not notified of the nursing home's plan to move you there, or did not agree you can move there.

    • Does not have room for you.

    • Cannot give you the level of care you need.

    • Cannot provide a higher level of care than your current nursing home.


Does the nursing home have to make a discharge plan for me?

Yes. A resident cannot be discharged unless the nursing home develops a written discharge plan ensures a safe and orderly discharge.


Can I be a part of developing my discharge plan?

Yes. You have the right to take part in all aspects of your discharge planning. Your written discharge plan must include a place to live and all the services and care you will get in order for a safe and orderly discharge.

  • The old nursing home must make sure that you arrive safely at the new location with your belongings, including transferring any personal funds to you or a new account.

  • You can ask to visit your new home as part of a safe and orderly discharge.


Who and what is the long-term care ombudsman?

The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program supports residents of nursing homes, adult family homes, and assisted living 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

State LTC Ombudsman Hotline: 1-800-562-6028; TTY Users: 1-800-737-7931


Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Last Review and Update: Oct 01, 2020
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