Understanding Assisted Living Residency Agreements – Part 1

Hope everyone is well.

Before we get started, I want to update you on the survey.  So far, over 130 people have taken the Inside Assisted Living – Family Attitudes and Preparedness Survey since we announced it on Thursday, August 7.  Thank you!   We’re hoping to get a few hundred in the next 30 days.

Now on to the purpose for the post…

What is a Residency Agreement?

One of the most daunting tasks of a transition to assisted living is the signing of the residency agreement.  Similar to a rental agreement or lease on an apartment, the residency agreement governs cost, services and termination options for your loved one’s stay in assisted living.

It always struck me as odd how little families pay attention to these agreements.  We spend hours test driving  cars or strolling through the mall, but oddly, very few people read these agreements in detail.  And even fewer take them to an attorney for review.

But I guess it’s not so hard to understand, since many of them can run 20+ pages.

At Least a Five-Part Series

I’d like to dedicate a series of posts to help you better understand a typical residency agreement.  My goal is not to drown you in legalese (legal speak for 25 pages of run-on sentence separated by commas), but rather to educate you on their core components and things to avoid.

Let’s pause for a brief disclaimer:

I am not an attorney.  I am writing these posts with the input an attorney who specialized in contracts.  The posts are not intended to provide legal advice, and I strongly encourage you to review any legal agreement with a qualified attorney.

Back to the fun…

If you Google search “assisted living residency agreement”, you will find many agreements  from state or local agencies or assisted living facilities.  For the purposes of this article, I’d be walking through an agreement from a large, corporate-owned assisted living facility.  While many agreements may be smaller, this particular agreement is relatively thorough, easy to read and provides a great subject for discussion.  And with the consolidation occurring in the industry, it makes sense to start there.

Core Components of a Residency Agreement

A residency agreement has many specific sections, but they can be grouped for the sake of discussion into several topics.  They are:

  • Accommodations and Term. This topic deals with the actual unit being rented and the duration of the residency agreement.
  • Fees, Core Services and Meals.  This topic sets the fee schedule and identifies both included and extra costs.  This topic also discusses the “what, when, where, how” of meal service.
  • Residency Qualifications. This topic discusses the qualifications required to be admitted to the facility and maintain residency.
  • Maintenance and Use. This topic communicates the service levels regarding building and unit maintenance, and identifies how the rented unit is to be (and not be) used.
  • Termination, Legal Stuff and Arbitration. This topic sets how the agreement can be terminated and includes a lot of standard legal language. One important item discussed in this section it arbitration,

Stay tuned for the next post, during which we’ll discuss Acccomodation and Term.  I will also include a downloadable copy of the agreement sample so you can follow along.

  • http://bloggingwithoutablog.com Barbara Swafford

    Hi Ryan,

    I found you through Linda Abbit’s Tender Loving Elder Care blog. I love what the two of you are doing by educating others on the needs of our elderly generation, a group of people who are often forgotten about.

    I’m subscribing and will be back soon.

  • http://www.insideassistedliving.com Ryan

    Babara – Thanks for reaching out and helping us all educate each other. I’ve found the topic to be somewhat taboo, and hoping to try and change that a bit. Looking forward to further comments!

  • http://www.plannedseniorhood.com …liz

    Took the survey and started browsing around the site. Lots of good information to be had here. Am actually learning a lot. Great job.

  • http://www.insideassistedliving.com Ryan

    Liz – Thanks much for the kind words. Stay tuned for more good stuff!

  • http://www.insideassistedliving.com/2008/08/understanding-residency-agreements-part-2/ Understanding Residency Agreements, Part 2 – Accomodations and Term — Inside Assisted Living

    [...] a previous post, I introduced the core components of an assisted living residency agreement. Unless you’re an attorney, these agreements can be quite intimidating.  In fact, many [...]