Whether you are reading about nursing home evictions in Poway or elsewhere in Southern California, it is important to think carefully about the rising rates of evictions and how these actions might rise to the level of elder and dependent adult abuse in the state. According to a recent article in California Healthline, more nursing homes in California are evicting patients who allegedly cannot pay after being assessed higher fees, while others are evicting residents and patients with certain illnesses and medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
Do improper evictions rise to the level of nursing home abuse? Can you file an elder abuse lawsuit following an improper eviction from a skilled nursing facility in California?
Evictions Complaints on the Rise in California
As the article explains, nursing home evictions are on the rise across the country, but some of the statistics from California are particularly alarming. Over the last five years, complaints about unlawful or improper nursing home evictions in the state “have jumped 70 percent,” leading to more than 1,500 complaints last year alone to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. According to Leza Coleman, the executive director of the California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Association, the problem is only likely to continue.
Coleman indicates that the growing number of evictions “stems from skilled nursing facilities’ desire for better compensation for their services and from the shortage of other affordable long-term care options that might absorb less severe cases.” Many elder safety advocates argue that eviction decisions are made on a largely financial basis, and that poorer seniors are facing involuntary discharges and evictions at higher rates than seniors who have the ability to pay and do not rely on Medicaid.
How the Law Treats Nursing Home Evictions
According to the article, under federal law, a nursing home is permitted to evict a patient under the following circumstances:
- Facility cannot meet the resident’s needs;
- Resident no longer requires the services of the nursing home;
- Resident is endangering the health and safety of other individuals at the facility; and/or
- Resident has failed to pay after receiving “reasonable and appropriate notice.”
To evict a patient under most circumstances, federal law requires that the nursing home provide the resident with at least 30 days notice, and it also requires that any involuntary discharge or eviction of a resident be done in a manner that is “safe and orderly.” In November, an elderly woman at a nursing home in Fresno, California was allegedly evicted from the nursing home and left on the sidewalk in front of a family member’s house with an open wound. A lawsuit has been filed in this case, as well as in several others concerning what patients and their families allege are unlawful discharges and evictions.
Under California law, elder or dependent adult abuse can be defined as “deprivation by a caregiver of things or services that the elder or dependent adult needs to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.” Unlawful evictions in this state, such as the case out of Fresno discussed above, could rise to the level of elder or dependent adult abuse.
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(image courtesy of Jonathan Adeline)