My mother is entering a nursing home and I am being asked to sign a mountain of admission paperwork for her, including an arbitration agreement. I’ve read that it is a bad idea to sign an arbitration agreement, but I’m worried that the nursing home will not admit my mother if I don’t sign it. What should I do?
Anxious in Antioch
Dear Anxious in Antioch,
Don’t sign the arbitration agreement! Nursing homes use them to prevent residents from being able to sue for abuse or neglect. It is never a good idea to sign an arbitration agreement at admission.
Under California law, the only document a nursing home can require you to sign as a condition of admission is the Standard Admission Agreement (CDPH 327) developed by the Department of Public Health. California Health & Safety Code §1599.61. 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 §72516.
You do not need to tell the nursing home you are not going to sign the arbitration agreement. At admission, tell the nursing home you are going to take the form home to review it. Then simply don’t sign or return it to the facility.
If you have already signed the arbitration agreement, you have 30 days to rescind it by giving written notice to the facility. California Code of Civil Procedure §1295.
To learn more about your rights on this subject, visit CANHR’s webpage on arbitration and read our fact sheets on arbitration and California’s Standard Admission Agreement for Nursing Home Residents.