Home Senior Living Can You Check Yourself out of a Nursing Home?

Can You Check Yourself out of a Nursing Home?

by Vuyo Ndlovu
0 comment 10 mins read
nursing home


What happens when you no longer want to live in a senior care facility? You may have changed your mind and want to get Home Care instead. Can you check yourself out of a nursing home

The answer is yes. You can check yourself out of a nursing home. All people have a right to movement. That right does not go away even when you are admitted into a Nursing Home. Your constitutional right to liberty allows you to refuse treatment from resident practitioners.

Sometimes, it is necessary to check yourself out. Especially if your health insurance is no longer covering you i.e. if your 100 days of Medicare coverage are up. In which case, it would be wise to leave before your pool of cash dries up.

Can a Nursing Home Prevent You from Leaving?

Can you check yourself out of a nursing home?

Yes, a nursing home can refuse to discharge a patient. If a judge has declared you unfit to make your own decisions, the facility can legally prevent you from leaving. If you have been declared mentally incompetent, the Nursing Home can take legal action to have the court declare you a danger to yourself and those around you. In which case, a family member who has a power of attorney will take over the decision-making or the facility will become your guardian.

Like people, not all Nursing Home staff are nice. If the Nursing Home is biased towards keeping Medicare-covered residents longer for financial benefit, the staff can intimidate you into staying. You may be told that Medicare will not cover you in the event of an accident resulting from leaving against medical advice (AMA). This has been proven to be false.

A facility may also threaten to call Adult Protective Services on you if you leave AMA. But if you are mentally competent, no one can prevent you from leaving. 

If the facility is making noises that it would take legal action to block your discharge, you can hire a geriatric care manager to review your records and the Nursing Home and advocate for a safe discharge plan. 

And if the Nursing Home does go forward with the guardianship, you can ask the court to appoint a lawyer to represent you. You and your family can also contact the ombudsman for the nursing home (the name and number of the agencies are posted next to the list of resident’s rights) and get some help with mediating the situation. 

You can also report the facility to the state survey agency, which enforces nursing home laws and regulations.

Do Nursing Homes Ever Allow Patients to Leave?

Yes. If they believe you are mentally and physically competent they are likely to let you leave. They’ll even help you pack. They may try to persuade you to stay. But if they fail, they have no choice but to let you go. The nurses will ask you to sign a discharge AMA form to protect the facility should any problem arise from your discharge. 

But, Nursing Homes will not let you leave if they believe you are a danger to yourself and others around you. Facilities face liability for discharging residents to what it knows to be unsafe conditions. Further, the nurses and doctors are “mandated reporters” who will contact the local elder protective agency if they believe residents are in danger due to medical self-neglect.

So, it is crucial to make sure your doctor also signs off on this and agrees to check your progress. Speak to the administrator and request to begin the procedure of checking out. 

Can you check yourself out of a nursing home?

Prepare for Your Discharge

For a smooth transition from the facility to home care, it is vital to prepare ahead of time. Leaving the facility abruptly will only increase your chances of coming back. 
When you decide to leave the Nursing Home, tell your doctor’s office first and then the Nursing home staff. If you’re still receiving physical or occupational therapy, tell your therapist of your goal of returning home. They can help you become more independent knowing your intention.

Don’t be in a hurry. Set a date to work toward what is doable for you. It is possible to set everything up to coincide with your discharge so you’ll have all the equipment and services in place to help you in your home. This will help ensure that your move is a smooth and successful one. 

Ensure You Have Help when You Get Home

If your doctor writes an order, therapy can come out and work with you to adapt to your home as you undergo rehab. They will do a safety check of your home too. They can make helpful recommendations for home health care and order the adaptive equipment that you’ll need to live on your own. These valuable therapies at home are short-term and paid for by Medicare or other health insurance.

Private home care is available in most communities. You will sign a contract that will determine the services that will be provided and when they will end. Most agencies will give you notice to end service. As you get better, the company can adjust the schedule accordingly. Hiring a home care provider is often money well spent as it will help you regain your strength and independence. Thus, giving you the freedom to remain at home.

All people have a right to movement. That right does not go away even when you are admitted into a Nursing Home.

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Top 3 Points

1. You can check yourself out of a Nursing Home. You have the right to do so.

2. However, the Nursing Home can prevent you from leaving if they believe you are a danger to yourself and others around you.

3. Once you are cleared by the doctor to leave the facility, make sure that you prepare for your discharge and ensure that you have help when you get home before checking out.


It is not a question of whether you will be allowed to leave. Your constitutional right to liberty allows you to. But, you can be blocked from leaving if the state, the nursing home, or the skilled nursing facility believes that you are a danger to yourself and others. If you no longer want to be in the facility you are currently in, another option is to find out how to change nursing homes.

You must prepare beforehand to ensure that you are physically ready and have enough help for the rest of the recovery. It is pleasing to know that, in the past decade or so, more laws have been passed to protect residents. Such that the rights residents had before they came in are the same rights they have as residents of Nursing Homes.

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