Do New Jersey Regulations Require Assisted Living Residence Admission Agreements to Contain Certain Language?

According to Betteridge’s law in journalism, if a headline asks a “yes or no” question, the answer must be no — otherwise the headline would simply present the issue as an affirmative statement. Since I’m not a journalist, the answer to the headline is yes. This post walks through a few of the requirements for the resident’s written agreement upon admission (Admission Agreement) to a New Jersey assisted living residence. More particularly, the requirements described in this post are all from NJ regulations governing assisted living residences at Title 8, Chapter 36 of New Jersey’s Administrative Code.

As a foundational matter, the NJ regulations require licensed assisted living residences to enter into an Admission Agreement with residents and, depending on the nature of services the residence provides, contracts with other providers:

The facility or program shall have a written agreement or its equivalent, or a linkage for services not provided directly by the facility or program. If the facility or program provides care to residents with psychiatric disorders, the facility or program shall also have a written agreement with one or more community mental health centers specifying which services will be provided by the mental health center. The written agreements shall require that services be provided in accordance with this chapter.1

See N.J.A.C. 8:36-5.9. When a prospective NJ assisted living residence is applying for licensure, the applicant must provide a copy of its proposed Admission Agreement for a compliance review.2 The regulation addressing the licensure review of the Admission Agreement specifically requires four provisions be present:

  1. Proposed charges for room, board and all levels of service and care, and for all additional services and care not included in the standard package of rates in accordance with N.J.A.C. 8:36-6.2.
  2. Specification of how and when the resident will be notified of any change in charges, and a statement that each resident has the right to request written justification of any increase in charges in accordance with N.J.A.C. 8:36-6.2.
  3. A statement that each resident has the right to appeal an involuntary discharge as specified in N.J.A.C. 8:36-5.14(b)
  4. Specification of the criteria identified in N.J.A.C. 8:36-5.1(d) which is used to discharge residents, and an explanation of how the discharge process is implemented, including which facility staff participate and the extent of resident participation. 3

Further, NJ assisted living residence Admission Agreements must fulfill these additional requirements:

  • The Admission Agreement must describe the service the assisted living residence will provide, the public programs or benefits that it accepts or delivers, the policies that affect a resident’s ability to remain in the residence (see 4 above) and any waivers that have been granted of the regulations regarding physical plant requirements at N.J.A.C. 8:36-14 for assisted living residences.
  • If the resident advanced a security deposit to the assisted living residence, the Admission Agreement must establish a procedure for returning such deposit upon discharge or death, including deductions reflecting any balance.

As mentioned at the outset, this post does not cover all requirements for a NJ assisted living residence Admission Agreement, nor does it cover the requirements for the admission agreements of other facilities (e.g., comprehensive personal care homes), but rather highlights examples of critical contractual provisions. To ensure the NJ assisted living residence Admission Agreement you are using or reviewing is compliant with NJ law, please contact a Health Care Department attorney or the Stevens & Lee attorney with whom you regularly work. 

1 See N.J.A.C. 8:36-5.9

2 See N.J.A.C. 8:36-2.2(c)

3 See N.J.A.C. 8:36-5.1(e)