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What to Do If a Nursing Home Closes

Rural nursing homes across the country are facing closure due to financial and labor concerns. Elderly residents and their families have a variety of options to help find a new nursing home that will suit their needs, including the Nursing Home Compare tool from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Helping elderly residents throughout the moving process and visiting them regularly in their new facility is critical for reducing stress.

Keeping Loved Ones Safe During a Nursing Home Closure

Nursing homes across the country are facing closure due to financial concerns and labor shortages, with nursing homes located in rural areas being the most affected. Due to underlying industry issues — such as limited Medicaid reimbursements — analysts expect this trend to continue over the next several years.

When nursing homes close, seniors are adversely impacted. They have to endure the stressful process of finding a new place to live, and they lose the bonds that they’ve built with staff and other residents.

Some seniors may even experience Relocation Stress Syndrome, which is a potentially deadly health problem that must be addressed immediately.

The good news is that family members and close friends can help seniors who have been impacted by nursing home closures by helping them pick a new nursing home, helping move them and their belongings, and visiting them regularly at their new facility.

Why Are Some Nursing Homes Closing?

As many as one in four nursing homes in the state of Massachusetts are at risk of closing, and there are several major reasons why nursing homes around the country are closing.

Reasons for nursing home closures include: 

  • Lack of Medicare and Medicaid funding
  • Loss of money
  • Labor shortages
  • Nursing home abuse or negligence

State regulators are increasingly cracking down on nursing home facilities that don’t meet state standards. For example, in Florida, a nursing home was shut down after inspectors determined that unsanitary conditions became a health and safety issue for residents.

Lack of Medicare and Medicaid funding is also a serious issue for nursing home facilities. A number of facilities are shutting down simply because they aren’t receiving the reimbursement amount they had previously expected from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The federal agency monitors nursing homes across the country, and facilities failing to meet federal standards are at risk of losing access to federal healthcare programs.

This ties into the next issue: Many nursing homes are losing money because of these limited reimbursements, and the healthcare companies that operate them often decide to cut their financial losses.

Another reason why some nursing homes are closing, specifically in rural communities, is labor shortages. For some facilities, there simply aren’t enough skilled healthcare workers nearby to keep the place open.

Without enough labor, nursing homes are forced to merge with bigger corporations, which can mean closing a rural facility and sending residents to a new facility closer to an urban area.

What Happens When a Nursing Home Closes?

Nursing home closures vary based both on the facility and the company’s finances and operations.

In most cases, nursing home closures are required to follow strict state or federal guidelines. These guidelines generally give residents the ability to find new facilities without being blindsided by an immediate closure.

However, some facilities still close their doors abruptly. For example, one Ohio nursing home gave employees and residents less than a day’s notice before closing its doors. In Massachusetts, one nursing home was forced to close immediately after its parent company’s financial mismanagement was made public.

When a nursing home closes, employees and residents are often on their own. Residents must move and find a new facility to live in, which can be especially difficult for those living in more remote areas.

How to Find a New Nursing Home

The best option for finding a new nursing home is by using the Nursing Home Compare tool from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

This tool is designed to help seniors and their families find safe and affordable nursing homes in their area and allows families to compare different nursing homes across their state.

The benefits of the Nursing Home Compare tool include:

  • Ranks nursing homes on a 5-star system
  • Indicates which nursing homes have been cited for abuse
  • Allows readers to pinpoint nursing homes near them
  • Provides contact information for nursing homes

Families may find it easiest to sit down with their loved one to compare different nursing homes and look through all of their options.

How to Move from One Nursing Home to Another

To simplify the moving process, families and friends may want to help elderly nursing home residents move their belongings from one facility to another.

It can be extremely difficult for elderly residents to move, especially when there are belongings that need to be moved long distances. In these cases, hiring movers may be a necessary step. Movers can reduce the complications of moving to a new facility by ensuring that all belongings arrive safely.

Avoid Relocation Stress Syndrome

Relocation Stress Syndrome can affect seniors who must move to a new care facility. The stress of a move can induce serious symptoms.

Symptoms of Relocation Stress Syndrome include:

  • Increased risk of falling
  • Reduced self-care
  • Weight loss
  • Confusion, depression, agitation

Unfortunately, Relocation Stress Syndrome can be deadly. For this reason, it is important for families and caregivers to pay close attention to seniors throughout the process of moving to a new nursing facility.

Here is what you can do to prevent or avoid Relocation Stress Syndrome during a move:

  • Inform the resident of the move as soon as possible
  • Stay optimistic and discuss all possible relocation options
  • Address all questions and concerns
  • Make sure that all personal belongings are safeguarded throughout
  • Make sure the resident is adjusting well to their new environment
  • Check for any signs of Relocation Stress Syndrome

How to Adjust After a Nursing Home Closure

Throughout the moving process, it is critical for family members to help their loved ones adjust to a new nursing home.

Families can do that by:

  • Visiting seniors regularly at their new nursing home
  • Checking to make sure seniors are being cared for and are happy
  • Monitoring for any symptoms of Relocation Stress Syndrome

When family members take the time to help their loved ones through a nursing home closure, they reduce the level of stress associated with the move. This, in turn, reduces the odds of Relocation Stress Syndrome and keeps seniors living as comfortably and happily as possible.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

View 3 Sources
  1. Healy, Jack. “Nursing Homes Are Closing Across Rural America, Scattering Residents.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/us/rural-nursing-homes-closure.html.
  2. Norton, Michael P., and State House News Service. “Report: 1 In 4 Nursing Homes At Risk Of Closing.” Report: 1 In 4 Nursing Homes At Risk Of Closing | Bostonomix, WBUR, 14 Nov. 2019, www.wbur.org/bostonomix/2019/11/14/nursing-home-risk-closing-massachusetts.
  3. Stempniak, Marty. “New York Times Details Epidemic of Nursing Home Closures across Rural America - News.” McKnight's Long Term Care News, 5 Mar. 2019, www.mcknights.com/news/new-york-times-details-epidemic-of-nursing-home-closures-across-rural-america/.