Understanding a Nursing Home Admission Agreement

No one likes reading and filling out forms. For a nursing home admissions agreement, there may be pages and pages of information you have to read through. You may wish it could be like an internet site where you just click “accept” and are done with it. However, this. Agreement is very important, and when it comes to things such as medical documents, you need to make sure you understand exactly what it is and what the consequences are before you sign on the line. This can have an even greater importance when you are signing for an elderly loved one that is relying on you to make the best choices for them.

When it comes to a nursing home admissions agreement, first things first—do not rush through the document, and if possible, let your attorney see and read through it before signing. This is because some agreements may contain illegal or misleading provisions. Also, be sure to not sign the agreement until after the resident has decided to move in, as once they move in, you’ll have quite a bit more leverage to work with. However, if you must sign it beforehand, be sure to ask the nursing home to delete or modify any and all illegal or unfair terms from the agreement.

There are two common things in these types of agreements that you need to be on lookout for: 

  1. a requirement that you are personally liable for the resident’s expenses, and 
  2. a binding arbitration agreement. 

We’ll take a closer look at each now:

Responsible Party

Nursing homes might try to get family members to sign the agreement stating those family members are the “responsible party.” Whatever you do, do NOT agree to this term. Nursing homes are forbidden from requiring any third parties to guarantee payment of bills, but they may try to get families to voluntarily agree to pay any bills.

If they are able, the resident should sign the agreement him or herself. If they are unable to do so, you as the family member may be able to do it, but be sure to clarify that you are doing so as the resident’s agent. If you sign the agreement as a responsible party, you may become obligated to pay the nursing home if the resident cannot do so themselves. Be sure to read over the agreement and look out for terms like “responsible party,” “guarantor,” financial agreement,” or anything of the like. Before you actually sign, you can cross out any terms indicating you as being responsible for payment, and clearly indicate that you’re only agreeing to use the income and resources of the resident themselves to pay for care. Make sure these changes to the agreement are made on paper before you sign.

Arbitration provision

A lot of nursing home admission agreements have a provision in them that states that any and all disputes over the care of the resident will be decided through arbitration. Requiring this provision is illegal, and if you sign it, you waive your right to go to court in order to resolve a dispute with the facility. The nursing home cannot, by law, require you to sign an arbitration provision, so make sure to cross out any arbitration language and state your disagreement before signing the document.

Let’s quickly look at three other provisions you might run across in the agreement:

Private Pay Requirement

it is illegal for a nursing home to require a recipient of Medicare or Medicaid to pay the private rate for a short time. They also cannot require a resident to affirm that he or she is not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare if they actually are. 

Eviction Procedures

The nursing home cannot, by law, authorize the eviction of any resident for reasons other than the following: 

  • the nursing home cannot meet the needs of the resident, 
  • the health of the resident has improved to the point they no longer require nursing home care, 
  • other residents are endangered by the resident’s presence, 
  • the resident hasn’t paid, or 
  • the nursing home is closing down.

Waiver of Rights

Finally, any provision that waives the nursing home’s liability for any lost or stolen personal items is illegal. It’s also illegal for them to waive liability for the health of the resident.