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Arbitration Best Practices for Assisted Living Communities

Arbitration best practices
As a provider of assisted living, you know that from time-to-time there are honest disputes that arise between providers and consumers. Pre-dispute arbitration clauses are often incorporated into residency agreements allowing disputes to be resolved in a timely manner with the least acrimony between provider and consumer. In recent months, however, the use of pre -dispute arbitration agreements have come under scrutiny by some members of the U.S. Congress.

The bases for the criticism of current practice are some isolated incidents where consumers were not adequately informed about a community policy on use of pre-dispute arbitration versus litigation. Unfortunately these incidents have come to the attention of well-intended legislators in the form of a bill entitled the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act. This bill, in its current form also embraces assisted living, and would prohibit use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in any long term care setting, even when the family or resident would prefer arbitration instead of litigation.

ALFA is working to ensure that the U.S. Congress is fully informed about the merits of pre-dispute arbitration and the negative impact it would have on providers and the seniors they serve if pre-dispute arbitration was prohibited. In the interim, ALFA has developed an Arbitration Best Practices program for your use. If implemented as we suggest, our industry, your company and the seniors and families you attend will be well-served. The following resources are included:

  1. ALFA’s Best Practices for pre –dispute arbitration agreements. ALFA supports full disclosure and consumer friendly practices when utilizing arbitration agreements and our goal is to have all assisted living providers support these best practices.
  2. A sample arbitration clause that providers can use in conjunction with their residency agreements.
  3. A Consumer Guide to Arbitration that providers can distribute to potential residents and family members that explains arbitration in consumer friendly language.
  4. Background information on pre-dispute arbitration compiled by the U. S Chamber of Commerce that explains arbitration, how it is different from litigation, and the impact on consumers. This background information is a great educational piece for those in your company who need to understand the value of arbitration.

These materials may be downloaded, by members only, at no charge for distribution to those who write your residency agreements. You may want to have our recommendations reviewed by your legal counsel. We’re sure you will find this information useful. Download Arbitration Best Practices for Assisted Living Communities. (Available to ALFA Members Only).
01/15/2010


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