Can My Loved One Come Home for the Holidays?

When an elderly loved one resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it can be easy to think they’re stuck there, unable to leave, even when it’s time for the holidays. But the holidays are times where families are supposed to be together, and this includes the elderly members. Sometimes you may be able to spend some time with them at the facility during the holidays, but are they able to come home for a visit? Everyone has likely wondered this exact question at some point, so let’s answer it.

Nursing home residents can leave for short periods of time to spend the holidays with family or to visit with friends and relatives without losing Medicare or Medicaid coverage. The Medicare Policy Manual says that residents that leave the facility for an “outside pass or short leave” may do so without fear of losing their coverage. If they come back by midnight, the facility may bill Medicare for the day. If the person is gone overnight (past midnight) and comes back the next day, it is considered a leave of absence and the facility may bill the beneficiary to hold the bed during absence. In situations like this, you should ask the facility what the cost will be.

In California specifically, a leave of absence (LOA) of 18 days per calendar year can be given to a Medi-Cal resident of a nursing home according to the resident’s plan of care, and the facility will continue to be reimbursed for the care. Up to 12 more days of leave per year may be given under certain conditions.

So there you have it. If you’ve been concerned about whether or not your loved one will be able to spend time with you and the rest of the family during the holidays, you don’t have to be. But you should be aware that the rules governing this may vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the facility where your loved one resides to find out their rules regarding this situation.