Can I refuse to take my mom home from the hospital?

In this article, we will discuss what are the cause and effects of refusing to take your mother home from the hospital, and the fate of many elderly living alone or with no one to take care of them.

There are many instances that family members are left with no choice on the care prospects of their elderly parents or relatives.  Many reports have been controversial in this kind of decision that families make taking into consideration the life long care of their loved ones.

When sickness hits the elderly family members, or debilitating sickness or condition, the family are left to seek help or financial aids in the lifelong care of their loved ones.

Can I refuse to take my mom home from the hospital?

A family member has no legal obligation to take a loved one home from the hospital, according to a lawyer from Advocacy Centre for the Elderly. There is nothing written in the law that requires a family member to take a patient home, moral obligation yes, but not a legal one. 

This comment from Jane Meadow, Advocacy Centre lawyer came to light following the news of a desperate daughter who left her mom with dementia in the ER. She felt that it is the only way she can get help for her mother. According to the daughter, she was so desperate that she suffered a mental breakdown herself.

 According to the news article, there was a constant pressure from the Joseph Brant Hospital and the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) for her to take her mom home. She was asking from LHIN and a nursing home for a bed for her mother for long-term care.  

The problem with bringing the mother with dementia home is she cannot be taken care of properly. The caretaker or family member can be charged with criminal acts for failing to provide the necessities of life.

The family was made to wait for years before they can get an assessment or even a call from LHIN regarding the long term care option for the mother with dementia.   After many futile attempts to put her in their care, the LHIN refused to assess her and when she was worsening, and being violent she was then brought to the hospital, 

The mother who has dementia was left in the ER hallways, despite several attempts by the hospital for the family to take her home. The hospital already threatened the daughter but she still refused to take her home until her mother got a bed in a locked down ward of a nursing home. This is what the family is aiming and hoping for years since her mother started dementia.

In the UK, according to some news articles, elderly people fare very badly in the hospitals. They are often discharged quickly to make way or spare beds for new patients. This is done without the proper assessment of the National Health Service (NHS), and no proper ongoing care arrangements have been put to place.

Most of the time, during discharge from the hospital, the health care workers are quick to tell the family members that they need to arrange ongoing care without proper assessment from the NHS. The financial responsibility of long-term care is to be established by the NHS with proper assessment. 

NHS Continuing Healthcare

While hospital staff may inform family members that their relatives in need of care does not qualify, insist on proper assessment to be done. Families have mentioned that hospital staff are not even aware of Continuing Healthcare or the assessment process.  This is no reason to overlook requesting for one.

If for example your mother is about to be discharged from the hospital with need for long-term care, she may be assessed already by the NHS to determine who will be responsible for her care. In case she may still be in intermediate care and her ongoing health care needs are not clear, the assessment can be delayed until this gets clearer.

There might be instances where she can still improve by rehabilitation, or she may deteriorate further. The NHS can wait until her condition is clear before they can make an assessment and see if the rehabilitation is effective or not. Other care packages can be given at this time as well.

However, during the intermediate care, your mother, relative or family members should not be charged whether they are at home or in a care home. It must be shown during assessment which funding is being used, either local or NHS responsibility.

Ensure that the hospital is aware that you want to do all NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment processes, and you want to attend all its assessments. If the hospital discharge team is aware of this, they may stop pressuring you to take your mom or family member home from the hospital.

Section 2 Notice

Once the NHS has fully assessed the care needed by your mother or any family member and determined that its no longer responsible for the care, the hospital will issue the
Section 2 notice”. This way the responsibility tips over to the local authority.

This procedure is done so that the NHS can shift budget responsibility to Social Services, which will then test your mother or relative. The NHS after its assessment of your family member in need of long term care.  If no proper assessment has been done, you can demand that this is done before this decision.

Some family members are being pressured to take their family member home by the hospital to free up bed space for new patients. And if NHS has not finished their assessment, the hospital cannot pressure you to discharge. It is the hospital’s responsibility after all to care for the well being of your mother or loved one.

If in any case make sure that the Section 2 notice has not been properly and updated with the current health needs and assessment of your mother or relative, you can demand to redo it and do a new one.  It is the right of the family to receive proper documentation of the assessment of the NHS for their own records.

Discharge from the hospital

No one can pressure you to discharge your mother or relative without proper assessment from the NHS. A proper discharge should be done with a full package care available in place as soon as they get discharged. Health care to one should have no gaps.

Be aware of the agreements that the hospital may ask you to sign. If you sign anything that lets you pay for your own care of your relative, it might be harder to fight for care funding. Even though the hospital may be anxious to remove your relative from its bed, you can use this as a leverage so that they can act fast on your relative’s assessment.

If your relative is already out of the hospital, this process will be much tedious and longer because you don’t have leverage anymore. If he or she is still in the hospital, the assessment may be done faster so they can free up your space in the hospital faster.

The hospital can also do delayed discharge, or the period where your relative is officially discharged to the date of his or her actual discharge with plans of proper care.

If a new discharge date has been determined, another notification will be sent by the hospital, And that is the Section 5 notification and will be issued by NHS to the Social service to endorse care needed for your mother or relative.

All rules about further care should be indicated there. Make sure that your mother or relative is discharged properly, well clothed, and not just left in the discharge lounge to wait their fate.

Your mother or relative should be sent home with dignity or in a nursing home with ongoing care in place and assurance that they will be home safely either at home or their destination.


In this article we found out that you can actually refuse to take your mother home from the hospital for valid reasons. If your mother needs more care or long term care, it is best that she may be assessed while still in the hospital.

This will determine who will be responsible for the long term needs of your mother or relative. The hospital cannot pressure you to bring your mother or relative home, especially if they need more care in the hospital or nursing home.

FAQ on “Can I refuse to take my mom home from the hospital?”:

Can I refuse to take someone home from the hospital?

Yes, you can refuse to take someone home from the hospital, but it does not mean that the hospital is obligated to keep them there too.  If you are doing this because you think your mother or relative needs more medical attention, then this should be communicated properly to the doctors or the hospital.

Can a hospital force you to go to a nursing home?

The hospital cannot force anyone to go to a nursing home whether for short or long term. They can do recommendations based on their assessments, but the decision will always be with the family members. 

If the patient cannot mentally or physically decide for himself or herself, then a legal medical representative that is assigned will be the one to handle his medical needs and decisions.

What happens if a parent refuses to go to a nursing home?

Many parents flat out refuse to go to a nursing home. You can try to convince them that it’s best for their health and well being. You can ask help from another family member or a physician to help convince the patient that it is for their own wellbeing.

How do you get into a nursing home with no money?

Medicaid is one of the most common means of paying for the nursing home or care when money has been depleted already. You can be eligible for Medicaid even if you don’t have much money to qualify for Medicaid.

How much money can you keep when going into a nursing home?

You are allowed to accept $10,000 per year gift under the federal gift tax laws. And the annual gift tax exclusion for 2010 is not $10,000 but $13,000.

Are you legally responsible for your elderly parents?

There is a filial responsibility by law that requires adult children to financially support their parents who are unable to support themselves for unpaid medical bills, assisted living or long term care.