Reviewing The Nursing Home Contract

Some questions to consider before your loved one signs a nursing home contract.

Before your loved one is admitted to a nursing home, he or she will have to sign a contract. Remember, the admissions contract is a legally binding document that spells out the conditions under which your loved one is accepted, so it is important to carefully review it before signing. Here are some things to look for in a comprehensive contract. It should:

  • State your loved one’s rights and obligations as a resident of the facility, including safeguards for residents’ rights and grievance procedures
  • Specify how much money you or your loved one must pay each day or month for him or her to live in the nursing home
  • Detail the prices for items not included in the basic monthly or daily charge
  • State the facility’s policy on holding a bed if your loved one leaves the home temporarily for reasons such as hospitalization or vacation
  • State whether the facility is Medicaid and/or Medicare certified. If so, the facility must accept Medicaid payments when your loved one’s funds run out, or accept Medicare repayments if your loved one qualifies for Medicare coverage. Private pay admissions contracts are illegal and cannot be enforced. Remember: discrimination against Medicaid recipients is illegal.

Additional Tips Before Signing A Contract

  • Ask the nursing home for a copy of a contract in advance. In this way, your loved one will he able to review the document at his or her own pace, get additional advice from a variety of outside sources, and compile a list of questions that he or she might have about provisions in the contract.
  • Have the nursing home administrator, the home’s social worker, or the local ombudsman answer any questions.
  • Because the admissions contract is a legally binding document, it is wise to discuss the terms of the contract with a lawyer.
  • Remember that your loved one can change terms of the contract. Each change must be initialed by both your loved one and the nursing home representative.
  • Be sure that the contract is complete and correct before your loved one signs it. There should be no blank spaces.

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, United States Department of Health and Human Services Health Care Financing Administration.

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