8 Things to Look for in a Nursing Home Agreement

Watch for these clauses in your contract -- and ask for changes as necessary
  1. Government-subsidized aid

    Not all facilities accept Medicare or Medicaid, but the contract should explicitly state whether the facility takes either or both. It's illegal for a facility that participates in these programs to force your parent to pay privately for a period of time before accepting her as a Medicare or Medicaid resident.

  2. The person or persons responsible for the bill

    By law, your parent is the only person responsible for any bills from a care facility. Some facilities, however, may try to get an adult child to sign on as a "responsible party." This is illegal. Look for this term and ask for it to be removed from the contract.

  3. Deposits

    Deposits can only be required of privately paying residents. Residents using Medicare or Medicaid can't be required to pay a deposit.

  4. Consent to treatment

    A facility can't require your parent to consent to any treatment recommended by the facility or its physicians. Agreements can only require consent for routine nursing care and emergency care.

  5. Personal property inventory

    The agreement should list what your parent is bringing into the facility.

  6. Discharge notification and refunds

    Make sure the contract spells out how much notice your parent must give before leaving, and how long the facility will save her spot if she needs temporary hospitalization.

  7. Waivers of liability

    Some agreements claim the facility can't be held responsible if the resident is injured or if her property is lost, stolen, or damaged. This isn't legal. Ask that this clause be removed from the contract.

  8. Binding arbitration

    Many facilities will include a cause requiring you to agree to binding arbitration in the event of any litigation between you and the facility. This would prevent you from suing the facility in court and from appealing any arbitration decision. Ask that the clause be removed from the contract.

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