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Contractual Protections in Admission and Transfer

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In a 2013 Guidebook, the provincial government suggested that the admission agreements or contracts are future performance agreements and are regulated under British Columbia‘s Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act (1)and the Consumer Contracts Regulation. (2)This may give the public the impression they have certain legal protections in respect of residential care agreements.

In a strict legal sense, the admission agreements or contracts are future performance agreements: the service or final payment is not provided at the time of signing, but will be provided in the near future. However, these agreements have substantive differences from the typical future performance contracts in that the cluster of health and personal “services “ and “goods” provided in residential care are provided on an ongoing basis, may change as the person’s needs change, and can be essential to the person’s wellbeing. Some of the services are funded through government, others are not.

The agreements appear to share some characteristics with continuing services contract (a type of future performance contract), but at present they are not actually covered as such under the consumer protection law or regulations. There may be some consumer protection for the “optional services” in the contract. However, most concerns about care are expected to be brought to the attention of the Operator, and if that does not succeed to be taken to the local Patient Care Quality Office for resolution. There are important questions about the capacity of the Patient Care Quality Offices to resolve these types of matters that blend law and care. See Chapter 5 on Rights, Remedies and Problem Resolution.

No matter how the agreements are characterized, it is essential that people know in advance what they are contracting for in terms of services funded by the government or the Operator, and any costs for which are they are personally responsible to the Operator. In its public information, the government has identified that:

“contracts for residential care services must include a description of the range of services available at the facility. Care services (e.g., bathing and dressing) are provided to residents based on their individual care plans. Hospitality services (e.g., housekeeping, meals, recreational programming) are provided to all residents. The cost of services is based on a percentage of income for subsidized facilities, or an agreed upon amount in private pay facilities. All consumers are entitled to know, in advance, what they will be charged per month and must understand that they may refuse additional services if they do not wish to receive them."(3)

ReferencesEdit

  1. Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act [SBC 2004] c. 2. Online: http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/04002_00 (Last accessed January 9, 2016)
  2. BC Government. (2013). Planning for Your Care Needs. Online : http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2013/planning-for-your-care-needs.pdf [“Planning Needs”] (Last accessed January 9, 2016 ).
  3. Ibid. Planning Needs.
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support, June 2014.