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I recently got a call from a friend that went something like this:
My mom’s independent/assisted living community is trying to kick her out. She’s been in the community for a year or two, and she had to move into assisted living a while back. Now management is telling us that she needs nursing care and has to move to another community. The problem is this: she doesn’t need nursing care. She needs continence assistance and some medication reminders, but that’s it! Why are they trying to kick her out, and what can we do about it?
Well… That’s a tough one. Here’s what I think happened:
It’s not uncommon for retirement communities to have too many residents in assisted living. Imagine a community that has filled almost all of its rooms. As residents who currently live in independent living age and move into assisted living, their independent living rooms are filled with new residents. The new residents eventually encounter health problems and have to move into assisted living as well. If the original resident has not already moved out of the community into a nursing home, then the community encounters a problem: It has too many residents who need assisted living care, but not enough rooms for them. In other words, assisted living is full, but the community has more residents that need assisted living care.
When this happens, the community politely “kicks out” some of its residents and relocates them to nearby nursing homes or assisted living providers.
Here’s how I would approach it:
- Read the resident contract again. There should be specific terms related to moving residents off the property into higher levels of care. Most contracts that I have seen specify something like a minimum of 30 days’ notice and provide specifications for finding a new facility. Make sure that the community is following the proper procedure, and look for a section detailing the patient rights in the event of being asked to leave.
- Negotiate on the fees. In my friend’s case, the resident was almost certainly not in need of nursing care; all she needed was medication reminders and continence care. Why would the community want her to leave? My bet is money. The community would probably be losing money on her care as compared to the relatively less needy resident who was waiting for the bed. If that is true, then negotiating pricing for levels of care might help sweeten the deal for the community and make it less likely for them to require new housing.
- Negotiate benefits related to the move-out process. Assuming that the community is abiding by the contract, then it’s possible to request flexibility in the move-out process. Do you need an extra two weeks to find a good nursing home? Most communities will be willing to work with you to make this happen. You might even be able to negotiate discounts on the last month’s rent due to your inconvenience during the relocation process. But, don’t count on it, especially if the community is abiding by their end of the bargain.
Most communities are struggling for residents in this tough economy and would not dare to relocate a paying customer. But, if you find yourself in this situation and the community is not upholding its end of the bargain, I suggest that you contact your state elderly ombudsman’s office. Here are the websites for selected states:
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