People in New Jersey who are looking for a nursing home for an aging loved one often do all they can to inspect the home, its policies and its practices, to ensure it is a good fit for their loved one. Once a nursing home is chosen, a nursing home contract will need to be executed. Before signing on the dotted line, it is important to carefully review the nursing home contract, to ensure it is fair and appropriate.

First, the contract should explicitly state what services the home will provide and what the basic daily rate for care will be. If there are items that are not a part of the basic daily rate, these items and how much they cost should be listed in the contract.

Nursing home contracts should also have language regarding the right to apply for certain government benefits, specifically Medicare and Medicaid, and the right to appeal a rejected application for benefits. The nursing home will have a “bedhold policy,” which should align with the requirements established through Medicare and Medicaid. Nursing home contracts should not require private pay or other up-front funds if the nursing home resident is approved for Medicaid. Nursing home contracts should not require that all of the resident’s income be deposited into a bank account that is under the control of the home.

The contract should also include language regarding who will make decisions if the resident needs to move to a different room in the facility. Nursing home contracts shouldn’t restrict when relatives can come visit their loved one. Finally, the contract should also state the exact circumstances under which a resident can be forced to cease residing in the nursing home.

Nursing home contracts shouldn’t limit the home’s liability if the nursing home resident suffers an injury on their premises or the home’s liability for the theft or destruction of the resident’s personal property. In addition, nursing home contracts shouldn’t require the resident to have a designated health care power of attorney or a living will.

Ultimately, the person who signs as the responsible party on the nursing home contract is obligated to pay for their loved one’s stay in the nursing home. Therefore, it can help to have an elder law attorney review any nursing home contracts, to ensure they are compliant with the law and are in the best interests of their client and the nursing home resident.