Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Nursing home agreements can be traps

Choosing a Connecticut nursing home is not a simple matter of looking at brochures and picking a place you can afford. Whether you are making the choice on your own or your family is helping, you certainly want to take the time to visit more than one facility, perhaps making numerous return visits before coming to a decision.

Even then, the process is not necessarily complete. Along with understanding the costs and benefits of the nursing home, you may face the confusing task of reading and signing an admission agreement. If your adult child is with you, he or she may also have documents to sign. Putting a signature to any of these documents without first obtaining a legal evaluation may be a devastating mistake.

Read carefully before you sign

A nursing home admission agreement is not simply your promise to comply with the rules of the facility. The contract is often much more ominous than that. For example, many nursing home admission agreements include the following legally binding terms:

  • The signer, whether it is you, a family member or your power of attorney, is responsible for any fees or payments your insurance or Medicaid does not cover.
  • The nursing home can sue the signer if he or she does not make payments on time.
  • You may give up your right to file a lawsuit against the nursing home if anything happens to you while under their care.
  • The agreement may require you to divert your pension checks or social security into the nursing home's bank account.
  • You may inadvertently surrender other rights the law provides for your protection.

Nursing homes must include certain information in your contract, such as the types of services they offer. If an administrator or admissions counselor informs you that the home provides additional services that the agreement does not include, you should be suspicious. The law binds the facility only to those services on the agreement you sign. You would be wise to obtain as much information as possible about your rights before you sign any contract.

Additionally, you should never feelĀ pressure to sign an agreementĀ right away. The home should allow you time, perhaps weeks, to see if the facility is a fit for you and if you are receiving the quality of care you expected. You can use this time to ask an attorney to review your contract and advise you on the best course of action for your situation.

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