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My Mother had a heart attack and after being stabilized at the hospital was sent to a nursing home. After about a week my sister and I decided to see if we could locate an assisted living facility for her since at this point she only needed oxygen and some physical therapy. Keep in mind at this point we had discussed with her the possibility of moving her to an assisted living facility but had never decided as to where or when this might happen.


We found one that looked like it would meet her needs and after taking a tour we were advised that one of their nurses would have to evaluate her to determine what level of care she needed. Having only POA I wasn't sure if I could legally sign the admission agreement, but they said that was no problem so I signed the agreement and handed them a check to cover the remaining 15 days of October.


The next day I called my mother in the morning and advised that someone from the facility would be coming that afternoon to evaluate her for a transfer. Herein lies the confusion. I thought she understood that after she was evaluated she would be going to the new facility, but obviously she did not because when I talked to her that evening she stated she did not want to go anywhere except back to her home. Also she said the woman that came that afternoon did not examine her or tell her why she was there, so she assumed it was not the nurse that I had told her was coming.


The next morning. I informed the facility of her change of mind. Since, besides the evaluation, the facility performed no other service I assumed I could get back the money already paid for the last half of October, minus maybe a small cancellation fee. As it turns out, not only will they keep the amount already paid, but since it was a thirty day contract I will be billed for the first 15 days of November. All this for an apartment my mother has not even stepped foot in.


The only thing that comes to mind is the fact that a POA is not the same as guardianship and the argument could be made that I had no right to use her money in order have her transferred to another facility in the first place. Since she does not have dementia and can sign agreements her self it may not be legally binding for me to do on her behalf without express written consent from her, which I did not have. In actuality there is no reason this nurse, or whoever she was, could have easily taken the agreement documents with her and had my mother sign them when she was there.


Most likely I'll need to consult an attorney about this, but I thought someone out there might be able to provide some guidance before I do that.

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Check your POA, some are in force the moment you sign. Also, even if you signed without proper authority I don't believe that lets you off the hook, it simply means that YOU are personally responsible for the money owing, not your mother. As for getting out of the contract and a refund I really think you haven't a leg to stand on, you understood the contract even if your mother did not. This is an industry where tenants come and go with regularity, they know what kind of contracts are enforceable and the terms sound pretty standard.
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You need to read the agreement you signed. Get a copy immediately if you don’t have one. Your defence to this will probably be that the nurse who came did not in fact evaluate your mother and assess what level of care she needed. You were told that this was part of the agreement, according to what you say, so they were in breach themselves. They breached the contract, not you. There is an issue about the actual damages they sustained. The additional point is that the nurse did not identify herself as representing the facility, and this resulted in your mother not knowing who she was or what rights she had to be asking invasive questions. The response will probably be that the nurse did all these things, and it was your mother’s fault for not understanding. The reply to that is that the assessment needed to cover her need for care, which for all elderly people includes confusion, and they should have taken all appropriate steps to ensure that she did indeed understand what was happening. ‘Hello dear, I’m here to ask you some questions’ is not good enough.

You could try a response to them along these lines, and say that you will obtain legal representation to defend any claim against you. They may not bother further if they think that it is going to be difficult for them to win (which it will be).

I wouldn't raise the POA issue at this point - wait to see if you have to get legal representation. Arguing a possible technicality is not as good as sticking to the moral high ground, at least at first.

Many organisations have a Facebook page (or something similar) where people can post comments on the services they provide. Don’t threaten this in writing, but you might make a verbal mention of your intentions in any discussion you have. Good luck!
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