Choosing to place a loved one in a nursing home is never an easy decision and trying to find the right nursing home can be even more of a chore. Between the price, location and the amenities offered, choosing the right facility takes a lot of consideration and time. Once you find the right place, you will ultimately have to sign an agreement with the facility. It may seem like a simple “sign and be done with it” process but there are things you should look out for before committing to a facility. Nursing home agreements, while mostly good, can have some sections on them that can cause problems down the line.
Here’s what you should look out for:
It is illegal for nursing homes to require that family members or friends guarantee payment to their facility. One of the ways some homes try to get around this is to get family members to voluntarily sign an agreement that sets them up as a co-signer or responsible party. If you sign an agreement with this clause in it, you may be liable for the bills should your relative not be able to pay.
In the event that your relative cannot sign the paperwork themselves, and has to have you sign it for them, make it clear that you are signing as the resident’s agent, not as a co-signer.
Read Your Contract Before Signing!
If you are acting as a conservator and signing the paperwork in that capacity, make sure you don’t just sign your name. You should sign as [your name}, conservator for [the protected person’s name]. Most importantly, it’s important to carefully read through a contract and go over it with your attorney if you are uncertain of anything or the clauses you find within it.
You can take a nursing home to court for negligence or other disputes regarding the resident’s care while staying there. However, if you sign an arbitration agreement with them, any dispute will not go through the courts. Instead, it will go through an arbitration process. If this is not agreeable to you, do not sign a contract with an arbitration agreement in it.
Waiver of Liability for Stolen Property
Sometimes a home will try to claim that they are not liable for the resident’s property while they are staying there, meaning they are not responsible if it is stolen. It is illegal for nursing homes to waive their liability for stolen property.
Waiver of Liability for Resident Health
It is also illegal for a nursing home to waive liability should something happen to a resident while staying there. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you have legal recourse should your loved one pass away while living there, but you can take them to court if your loved one is assaulted, abused or neglected during their stay.
While nursing homes are allowed to evict residents under certain circumstances, they cannot do so for any reason they choose. Look out for clauses in contracts that claim facilities have the right to evict residents at any time or for any reason. Nursing homes can usually evict residents if they are a danger to other residents or if they can no longer pay.
Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.