For families and seniors, the process of moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility can be taxing and emotional. During this time, many practical considerations must be addressed, including ensuring that all concerned have a full understanding of the rights and responsibilities that come with admission into the facility. These terms will generally be contained in an admission agreement that will be executed prior to the date that the senior moves in.
It is highly recommended that no admission agreement be signed without consulting with an attorney beforehand. While California as well as federal law has attempted to curtail some of the more unfair practices and oppressive provisions that nursing homes have often included in admission agreements, there are still many ways that such agreements, if not properly negotiated and reviewed, can negatively impact the resident and his or her family.
Standard Admission Agreement
In April 2012, California became the first state in the nation to ban the use of admission contracts written by nursing homes. All California nursing homes must now use a Standard Admission Agreement (CDPH 327) along with numerous attachments which were developed by the California Department of Public Health.
While nursing homes are not allowed to alter or amend the agreement without prior authorization from the Department of Public Health, it is not unheard of for nursing homes to attempt to do so or add additional language that contravenes the law.
Key Admission Agreement Requirements and Prohibitions
Some key aspects of the law to be aware of when reviewing an admission agreement include:
- Neither the resident nor his or her representatives can be required to sign any other document at the time of admission or as a condition of admission or continued stay in a California nursing home. If they ask you to sign additional documents, ask for copies so you may review them with your attorneys.
- A contract may not require a third-party guarantee of payment as a condition of admission or expedited admission. If the facility asks a family member to sign a personal guarantee, do not agree to do it.
- Signing the Agreement as a resident’s representative does not make a representative responsible for using his or her own money to pay for the nursing home care.
- A resident cannot be required to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admission to a facility and the nursing home cannot present an arbitration agreement as part of the Agreement. Facilities use such agreements to have greater control or prevent you from filing a lawsuit in the event that a conflict or dispute arises, including any claims regarding abuse or neglect.
- A contract may not require that the resident pay with private funds for a specific period of time, meaning the contract cannot forbid a resident to pay with Medicare or Medi-Cal funds.
- A contract may not require the resident to promise not to apply for Medicare or Medi-Cal benefits.
- The Admission Agreement cannot require a resident to provide advance notice of when he or she is moving out of a facility, nor can the facility charge for any days of care after discharge or death.
There are many other considerations, from advance healthcare directives to how personal property is handled to confidentiality, that are involved in the process of admitting a senior into a nursing home or assisted living facility. The issues and documents involved are infinitely more complex than simply signing a lease like one would for an apartment, and infinitely more consequential. For peace of mind and for your protection, it is important that you consult with an experienced California elder law attorney before signing any admission agreement.
Yee Law Group, PC: Sacramento and Roseville Elder Law Attorneys
If you are a senior or a loved one of a senior looking for answers and guidance on the important matters that arise as we age, Yee Law Group, PC, PC in Roseville is ready to assist you and provide responsive, accessible, and plain-spoken counsel. Please give us a call at (916) 599-7297 to discuss your issues and concerns. We look forward to the privilege of being your attorneys.