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Can an assisted living facility deny us visiting our sister?

We have a sister in assisted living facility in Bradenton, Florida for the past 20 years. We just moved back to the area and attempted to visit her and was told they have moved her to anothe location and will not allow family to visit her. Do they have the legal right to do this? What legal options do we have as we are fearing the worse.
Status: Open    Jul 06, 2016 - 07:05 AM

Elder Law, Senior Living Communities

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3 answers

Expert Answers

Jul 27, 2016 - 08:44 AM

The first thing I would do is go to the Probate Court for the county where she was living, Manatee County for Bradenton, FL. See if a guardian has been appointed. You may be able to do that on-line. See link below. If there is a guardian, contact him/her and ask to see your sister. If the guardian refuses you can go to court to seek the right to visit. The guardianship may have been transferred to another county if she is no longer in Manatee County but the new court will be in that file.
If there is not a guardian I suggest you go back to the facility and again ask to visit or where she is now. If denied I suggest you then call the Dept of Elder Affiars Ombudsman at: 1-888-831-0404 (toll-free) or 1-850-414-2323 or with office at 4040 Esplanade Way Tallahassee, FL 32399-7000. If that does not work then call Adult Protective Services of DCF at 800-962-2873.

Your sister can refuse to see you. If you know where she is you can send her a letter, card or call to try to get her to change her mind.
Wherever she is living is her home. The facility cannot refuse entry to anyone without good cause or the request of the resident.

Best wishes and Godspeed.



Jul 10, 2016 - 09:29 AM

What I do know is that when a family member first goes into a facility, they do ask (sometimes)) that the family stay away for about 2 weeks. This is so that the patient learns to rely on the staff for thier needs. In my experience, Uncle Bill had a history of anxiety and was diagnosed with Parkinson's, so I was not comfortable with thier suggestions, although I understood the reason they asked this. It is often the case where they drug the patient usually with an antipsychotic to keep them calm or subdued. it is heartbreaking. This is what they did to Uncle Bill. I knew this was the case after two days when I went to visit. addressed the problem and asked he not be on those drugs and asked him to be placed on an anxiety med, this helped. Not long after this, once I got home from a visit, I was called by the facility and told he needed a ride to a psychiatric facility for med management and observatio. I was never involved about this decision and was livid. He did come back better for a few nights after his two week stay there, but what I learned after the fact was that it was NOT part of the Independent living side of the building yet under the same name. It was a private facility connected with this care facility. So basically we had very little rights. When he first came to the assisted side we asked that he not sign anything (as he requested as well) and that the family POA sign all papers.
By keeping us away, they did have him sign although he was medicated. I had to do extensive digging to find this out and did not tell the facility I knew. I then had Hospice come in, due to his failure to thrive with Parkinson's. Now WE had authority over this place, WE had the right to advocate and WE saw that his last 6 months were peaceful and one of the family was with him everyday. This is how we got around this whole scenario, we couldn't move him to another place because it would have been way to hard on him. It was the best thing for him to have Hospice take over his med reg.
I suspect that perhaps this is close to your situation after 20 yrs, your sister may have been placed in a psych facility. The fact that you were not involved may be because she was in a privately run facility to start with. So, no, legally you have little to do. They promise the moon and stars, but if you don't ask, they won't tell you, and how could one possibly know to ask unless you have been thru it. It's like a game of paper, rock, scissors and Hospice was what won for us and Uncle Bill. I'd start with checking into that, at least you can see her during hospice doing an evaluation though I must reiterate not to use this amazing organization only as a way to get around the rules of the assisted living, but chances are she could use an evaluation for the best loving care of your sister and your own peace of mind. I'm sorry for what your family is dealing with, I will be praying for this situation and the best for your sister. If not for Hospice, the fight we went thru for our Uncle to have peace and us to have rights would have gone nowhere. Best wishes and God Bless.

Source: family member

Jul 10, 2016 - 09:31 PM

There seems to be a lot of missing information from your situation. First question: Is your sister "competent"?
Is she 100% in charge of all the decisions realted to her life? Or has a 'conservator' been assigned to manage all the decisions in her life?

If she is competent then she should have been involved with any and all decisons related to moving. (either between a facility or to another level of care) If she is in charge of her decisions then perhaps(?) information has been communicated that she does not not want any visitors or she is refusing specific visitors. If she is competent, then this is her right. She can choose to see or not see anyone she wishes.

If howerer another person is in charge of her decisions & care (Court appointed conservator? designated Power of Attorney?) then that person might have issued instructions that she is not to receive visitors or particular visitors. It would however, be very unusual for another person to refuse their ward to meet with family visitors (assuming there were no prior accusations of exploitation or abuse) You absolutely have a right to understand what is happening to your sister but somebody else may in fact be in charge of all her care decisions.

Whenever a senior is isolated from family or friends the first danger to come to mind is financial explotation and abuse. Track down your sister's movements and transfers. Attempt a visit at her new location. (this should not be a problem if she is not in a locked type of unit) Ask plenty of questions and establish who exactly is 'speaking for her' and advocating for her. If you hit a stone wall, then calls to the elder abuse hot line and Adult Protective Services would be in order. Let them know that as her sister your main goal is to ensure that her needs and preferences are being adequately representerd and promoted in whatever care decisions are made for her.
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