Thinking Of Entering A Continuing Care Retirement Community?
Some Things To Think About
Continuing care retirement communities in California promise to provide “care to an elderly resident for the duration of his or her life or for a term in excess of one year.” They usually provide independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. Residents transition from one level to another as their care needs change.
If you are thinking of entering a continuing care retirement community, here are some things to consider.
- Continuing care retirement communities often require payment of entrance fees. They can be modest but sometimes can be well into six figures. Make sure you understand how much the entrance fee is, how it will be paid, and what you will get for your money. Entrance fees in some communities may buy an ownership interest in part of the community’s property or a transferable membership. In others, the entrance fee becomes the sole property of the community, purchases no equity interest, and does not provide a membership, transferable or otherwise. Part or all of it may be refundable or it may be nonrefundable. The community may also require payment of other pre-admission fees, such as an application fee. Be sure you know how much these fees are, what you will get for your money, and whether any or all of them are refundable.
- What is the total monthly cost to reside in the community? What will you get for your money? Meals, housekeeping services, assistance with activities and medications, transportation, “optional services?” There are usually periodic reassessments to determine changes in care needs and related cost increases. There are likely to be provisions for increases in monthly costs. Make sure you understand the total monthly costs, how they are calculated, and what can cause them to increase.
- If and when your care needs increase, what entitlement will you have to receive a higher level of care? Will you be required to pay a fee to transition to a higher level of care? Will the community provide you an estimate of the monthly cost for the higher level of care?
- What furnishings, fixtures, and appliances will the community provide? What will you need to provide for yourself? Which of your personal belongings will you be allowed to bring to the community? Does the community accept pets? If so, are there limitations on type, size and number?
- Under what circumstances can the community change or terminate your residency? How much notice does the community have to give you prior to changing or terminating your residency? If you want or need to change or terminate your residency, how much notice will you need to give the community? Will you be subject to change or termination fees? If so, how much? Will you be entitled to refunds? If so, under what conditions and how much?
- Will you be responsible for any of the community’s taxes or other expenses?
- What are the community’s policies concerning visitors? May your friends or loved ones stay overnight in your residential unit?
- In the event of disputes or disagreements between you and the community, how will they be resolved?
- How financially viable is the community, its parent or affiliated companies? Does it maintain reserve funds to ensure its financial security? Is the community willing to disclose financial statements and related documents to you?
- You have the legal right to tour “each of the different care levels” of the community. Take your time. Keep your eyes open. Talk to current residents about their experiences at the community.
- You have the legal right “to inspect assisted living and skilled nursing home licensing reports including, but not limited to, the most recent inspection reports and findings of complaint investigations covering a period of no less than two years, prior to signing a continuing care contract.” Ask to see them.
- If you will acquire an equity interest or membership in the community, what does it consist of? What restrictions does the community impose on your transfer of your interest or membership?
- What conditions does the community impose if either you or the community cancel the continuing care contract? Will you be entitled to a refund? If so, how will it be calculated and when will it be paid?
- Do some comparison shopping. High entrance fees and large monthly costs do not necessarily mean you will get better care.
- If the documents presented to you include an “Arbitration Agreement,” DO NOT SIGN IT without consulting an attorney.
Be sure you read all documents and agreements presented to you by the community and that you understand them before signing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make notes concerning the community’s answers. Or, even better, have all documents and agreements reviewed by a competent attorney before you sign them.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home or other care facility, contact the Law Office of David M. Jamieson for a consultation (209) 521-1269.