Are Residents Able to Move Out of an Assisted Living Facility if They Desire?

Misconceptions and confusion abound in regard to the ins and outs of assisted living facilities. For example, assisted living communities oftentimes are thought to be the same types of facilities as nursing homes. In fact, they are far, far different. If you are considering moving into an assisted living community, or if your senior parent is contemplating a move, you may wonder whether assisted living residents are able to move out of a community if they so desire. The quick answer to the question is “yes.” In this article, we explore the ins and outs of moving out of an assisted living community.

Contract Between Resident and Assisted Living Community

The manner in which a resident of an assisted living community can move out will be spelled out in the contract entered into between the parties. In addition, state law and regulation set forth parameters regarding what needs to happen (and what cannot happen) if a resident of an assisted living community desires to move.

Typically, including in the state of California, a resident of an assisted living community needs to give 30 days’ notice of his or her intention to move out of a facility. A resident need not cite a reason in the notification as to why the move is intended or desired.

The notice needs to be in writing and delivered to the administrator of an assisted living community or his or her designee.

  • The notice need not contain any particular legal language. It must include some basic information:
  • Name of resident
  • Unit occupied by resident
  • Date of intended move-out
  • Date notice is delivered to assisted living administration

In many ways, moving out of an assisted living community because a resident desires to do so is not all that different from a person electing to move from a rental property. As long as the notice is delivered, as long as the resident vacates by the end of the 30-day time period, and provided that the individual leaves the unit in a satisfactory condition, there should be no problems associated with leaving an assisted living facility.

Avoiding Assisted Living Community Dissatisfaction

An assisted living facility resident can avoid dissatisfaction with a community by undertaking extensive due diligence before signing a contract. This due diligence needs to include the following:

  • Multiple visits to an assisted living community. Visit a community on different days of the week and at different times of the day to get a full experience of life in that facility.
  • Some assisted living communities welcome people to spend a few days in their facilities. Sometimes this is through a respite program. In other words, if a person has a caregiver who assists with some activities of daily living, that care provider might need time off for one thing or another. When this is needed, a respite care arrangement can be made whereby the senior spends a few days in an assisted living community. This opportunity addresses the respite care need and allows a senior to experience a particular assisted living community.
  • If a person already has a friend or friends living in a particular assisted living community, talk to that individual or those individuals. Find out what they think about life in assisted living generally and what they think about the particular community in which they reside.

By taking a comprehensive approach to undertaking due diligence before signing an assisted living contract reduces the chances that a person will regret the move because of a dislike for a community.

Financial Reasons Underpinning a Move From Assisted Living

In some cases, an assisted living resident reaches a juncture at which finances necessitate a move, which can be a particularly traumatic situation for a senior.

When a senior consider moving into an assisted living community, that person must never have the mindset that if money runs out, the assisted living facility will have to keep the individual or will find a way to allow the person to continue to reside in the community. That simply is not a reality and is not how assisted living communities operate.

Before selecting a particular assisted living community, a person must fully understand all the costs associated with a facility. In addition, an individual must also appreciate the manner in which costs might increase over time if more services are needed and so forth.

The financial side of assisted living also demands that a prospective resident make an honest assessment of the state of his or her finances. That includes accurately determining what resources may or may not be available to assist with assisted living costs. For example, is there available long-term care insurance? Does a person have adequate savings?

Situations in Which a Resident Must Move From Assisted Living

Beyond a personal desire to move from an assisted living community, there are certain situations in which a resident is required to relocate. These generally are in three categories:

  • An assisted living community cannot meet the evolving medical or other needs of a resident
  • A resident is engaging in behavior that jeopardizes the safety of other residents or staff
  • An assisted living community is closing

Specific examples of situations in which a resident must move from assisted living include:

  • Progressively profound mobility issues
  • Progressively profound dementia
  • Significant health issues that require regular medical assistance
  • Resident aggressive behavior
  • Around-the-clock nursing care required
  • Resident becomes bedridden beyond the permissible period of time
  • Resident sustains or develops certain types of wounds
  • Need for hospice care and the facility does not have an appropriate hospice waiver

When a situation such as one of these or similar scenarios arise, a resident needs to be given proper notice and permitted a period to depart the facility. There are also legal provisions that permit a resident to appeal a notice to move from a facility because of one of these or similar reasons.

In the end, one of the primary objectives of assisted living is to help a resident maintain his or her independence. Part of being independent is deciding where a person wants to live (assuming that such an individual is mentally competent). Living arrangements include deciding to move from a particular assisted living community.