Federal Program Helps Nursing Home Residents Move Home

Once someone enters a nursing home, it isn't always easy to move out again. While some residents may prefer nursing home care to living on their own, others would rather be independent. For residents who want to move out but need some assistance to live on their own, there may be help available. A federal program is trying to help nursing home residents in some states regain their independence.

Residents who have been in a nursing home for a long time may have to start all over again when they move out. They may need help finding a place to live, establishing a bank account, making a home accessible, and locating home care.

In 2005, Congress established a federal program called Money Follows the Person that is designed to make it easier for nursing home residents to move out. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia participate in the program, which provides personal and financial support to help eligible nursing home residents live on their own or in group settings. The new health reform law extends federal funding for the program until 2016. The law also reduces the amount of time an individual must reside in a nursing facility in order to qualify for the program, from 180 days to 90 days.

To find out if you are eligible for the program in your state, contact your Area Agency on Aging. Or ask a qualified elder law attorney to help you research options.

For an article in USA Today on the Money Follows the Person program that explains which states are participating in the program, click here.

While leaving a nursing home is a good move for some, it won't work for everyone. The AARP has come up with some questions to ask before choosing to move out of a nursing home.

  • Do you want to live independently? You must be motivated enough to overcome frustration and inconvenience.
  • Are you able to live independently? People with limited mobility can often manage.
  • Can you afford to live independently? Government programs offer a variety of financial help.
  • Is in-home care available? Together, a doctor and a transition coordinator can help compile a list of needed services.
  • Is appropriate housing available? Requirements vary with health and mobility, and include access, safety features, security, and kitchen and dining facilities.
  • Does the home have everything you need? This includes a telephone, emergency contacts, kitchen equipment, and personal care items.
  • Does the community offer necessary medical services? Its crucial to identify and perhaps contact in advance doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, and emergency clinics in the community.
  • Do you have the necessary skills? These may include shopping, showering, or bathing, preparing meals, budgeting, and paying bills.
  • Is transportation available? Many areas have senior transportation programs.
  • Is social support available? Options include senior housing activities, religious programs, senior day-care, and family visits.

For the full article from the AARP on moving out of a nursing home, click here.