Understanding Residency Agreements, Part 3 – Fees, Core Services and Meals

The purpose of the Understanding Residency Agreements series is to provide you with a working knowledge of the contract you’ll likely face should you choose assisted living for your loved one. The contract we’ll use as an example is from a major corporate assisted living company.  Many of these contracts can be found by searching Google, but I believe this agreement serves as good example.

In Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, we covered some of the basics of an assisted living residency agreement.

This post will discuss fees, core services and meals.

III. Fees

The fees section of the agreement explains what services are provided and how much they cost.  Some costs are referred to as part of an Appendix.  This section should clearly articulate exactly for what the assisted living facility will charge you, the rules by which those fees are assessed, and the terms by which those fees can be modified.

I cannot stress enough – read this section of the contract in detail!

Some things you should be aware of:

  • Make sure you understand what factors may change the amount of the service fee.  For example, if the fee is raised, understand the amount by which fees can be raised and with what notice.   This may impact your budgeting.
  • You should have the right to terminate the agreement in the event fees are increased beyond a reasonable amount. Remember though, while termination may protect you from incurring additional financial obligations, it will mean you need to find a new facility for your loved one.
  • If there is a community fee payable in connection with processing the admission application, make sure you understand how much of that fee is refundable in the event your loved one chooses not to or is unable to moved into the facility.  Note: In our sample agreement, the applicant is only eligible for an 80% refund should the applicant decide not to enter the community after their pre-admission appraisal is processed.
  • If at all possible, try and negotiate a 100% refund, less any non-refundable deposit.

IV. Core Services

This section identifies what services and amenities are included for the base community fee.  This fee should have been identified in the prior section.

Some things to be aware of here:

  • Understand the real services included in the fees, asking for details about things such as meals, snacks provided between meals, whether residents need to pay for food outside normal meals, etc.
  • Clarify when community-provided transportation can be used.  For example, is it only available for planned events, or can it be used for individual resident doctor appointments or social activities? Is there a fee?  Some communities provide transportation to medical providers.  Find out whether there are restrictions on distance or whether the transportation benefit applies only to certain providers.
  • Are there any fees assessed when caregivers live with the resident?  Some facilities consider this to be another person and will assess heavy fees if private caregivers live with the resident.

The core services section is usually self-explanatory.  Read it carefully, brainstorm about what is not included, and ask questions when something is missing.  It is often effective to walk through multiple scenarios with the admissions director to understand how fees will be applied.

Relevant Articles:

Understand Residency Agreements – Part 1
Understanding Residency Agreements – Part 2

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