LONG TERM CARE FACILITIES: Make Sure You Know Your Rights
When you are admitted to a California nursing home, or other type of long-term care facility, you will be asked to sign an admission agreement that explains your rights and responsibilities and those of the nursing home. In years past, this involved signing contracts written by nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that often contained deceptive or illegal terms.
California is the first state in the nation to outlaw the use of admission contracts written by nursing homes. By law (SB 1061, 1997), all California nursing homes must now use the Standard Admission Agreement developed by the California Department of Public Health. (California Health and Safety Code §1599.61) After more than a decade of delays, the Standard Admission Agreement took effect on April 6, 2012.
The Standard Admission Agreement’s purpose is to give you peace of mind that you are signing a document that protects your rights and does not expose you or your family to unexpected financial liability. It is important, however, for you to read the document carefully and to make sure you fully understand its terms before you sign it.
Never, never, never I mean never sign them. Do not release / give up your constitutional right to a jury trial. Cannot ever be used as a basis to not admit a patient to a long-term care facility.
By signing a binding arbitration agreement, you give up your constitutional right to go to court if a dispute arises in the facility, even if it involves abuse or neglect. There is no right to appeal a decision made through binding arbitration, in most instances.
Nursing homes cannot require you to sign an arbitration agreement and cannot present an arbitration agreement as part of the Standard Admission Agreement. (California Health & Safety Code §1599.81, Title 22 California Code of Regulations §73518). Any arbitration agreement shall be separate from the Standard Admission Agreement and shall contain the following advisory in large, bold type at the top of the agreement:
Residents shall not be required to sign this arbitration agreement as a condition of admission to this facility, and cannot waive the ability to sue for violation of the Resident Bill of Rights.
Residents and their legal representatives can rescind an arbitration agreement by giving written notice to the facility within 30 days of their signature. (California Code of Civil Procedure §1295)
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.