Can my uncle take himself out of a rehab nursing home because he's not happy with the care?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My uncle is in a rehab nursing home in Florida and wants to get out but he cannot get about by himself. No one is around. Can he take himself out?

Expert Answer

Nan Hayes is founder of, the national resource network of Certified Relocation and Transition Specialists for seniors, and President of RightSized Living, a senior home transition service in Illinois.

In most cases, a discharge planner would be involved in your fathers release. If this is a Medicare or Medicaid certified institution, there are regulations surrounding his release. Typically, plans for his discharge are made between you, or the authorized care giver, the doctor and the discharge planner. The discharge planner may be a nurse or social worker who will be your primary contact for your dad's transition from the hospital to wherever he need to be placed next, if not at home. The planners responsibility is to make sure that arrangements have been made before your dad leaves the hospital to assure that his discharge is, according to Medicare, "safe and adequate." This conversation will include questions about his ability to care for himself and who, if anyone is available to help out. If you are his closest relative, you may want to contact him or the facility planner to get more details about his condition, possible release and local resources.

Your uncle's rights are clearly worded in the Medicare statement that the hospital provides. It outlines the patient's rights to receive care and necessary follow-up care. If an appeal for delayed discharge is made, your uncle cannot be forced to leave until a decision has been made about his future care.