WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

The Nursing Home Wants To Discharge Me

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded

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


Download | Printer-friendly

Read Online

Should I read this?

This is for nursing home residents only.

*If you are 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 without my consent?

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

  • You need the transfer/discharge for your welfare AND the nursing home cannot meet your needs.

  • Your health has improved and 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 evidence that the reason is true?

Yes. There must be documentation in your nursing home medical record by your own doctor if they base the reason on your welfare and the facility cannot meet your needs, OR your medical condition improved. 

If the nursing home says you pose a threat to others’ health/safety, any medical doctor may document this in your medical record.

*The law requires a nursing home to try to reasonably accommodate your needs before resorting to discharge.

What steps does the nursing home have to follow if they want to discharge me?

Nursing homes must follow specific legal steps to discharge you.  They must:

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

How much notice does the nursing home have to give me?

Usually, you must get 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 facility for 30 days. 

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

It must explain:

  • Why the nursing home thinks you should be discharged.

  • When they want you to leave.

  • Where you are to go.

  • You have a right to appeal; how to request an appeal.

  • 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/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/transfer date on the notice, or before you move out, the nursing home must suspend the transfer/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/a hearing?

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

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

After the nursing home finishes their presentation, the administrative law judge 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.

What are some reasons I might have to fight a discharge?

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

  • The nursing home’s discharge notice did not give you all the required info.

  • The nursing home did not follow all  required procedures.  

  • The nursing home says they cannot meet your needs, but they did not try to reasonably accommodate 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.

Who and what is the long-term care ombudsman?

The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program advocates for residents of nursing homes, adult family homes, and assisted living facilities. Their purpose is to protect and promote the rights of residents. They address complaints about nursing homes, and can share info with you about your residents’ rights. 

Each county has a regional ombudsman.  The State Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s website is www.waombudsman.org.

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



This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of December 2017.

© 20175 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

Last Review and Update: Dec 04, 2017