For adult children, obtaining quality long-term care for an aging parent is something to take very seriously, something that warrants significant time and attention. Not all nursing care facilities provide the level of care that they are expected to provide, particularly given the ever-increasing costs of care. When seeking admission of an elderly parent for care, more and more adult children are coming across agreements which require disputes to be resolved not in court but in some form of alternative dispute resolution, typically private arbitration.
Private arbitration can be a beneficial process for resolving disputes, depending on the circumstances of the case and the parties involved. When it comes to resolving disputes with nursing care facilities, though, many feel that private arbitration is too often slanted in favor of nursing facilities.
As a recent article points out, advocates for the elderly and their families argue that arbitration allows nursing facilities to avoid accountability from the public for wrongdoing. Another issue is that arbitration typically doesn’t not work on a strict deadline, meaning that decisions can be rendered months or perhaps longer after the arbitration is conducted, even though they are supposed to be delivered within a reasonable time.
Another issue is that, in contractual arbitration, parties bypass the judicial system and so there is typically no right to a new trial. This is because the process is dictated by the terms of the contract rather than the protections of the judicial system. Also, the availability of judicial review to address legal errors on the part of arbitrators depends on the terms of the contract. Then there is the issue of arbitrator selection, which is also subject to the terms of the contract.
In any arbitration proceeding, of course, selecting a qualified, neutral arbitrator is critical to obtaining a fair hearing in any case. Adult children and families who are facing the prospect of contractual arbitration with a nursing home facility should be aware of this issue, not only when negotiating the agreement, but also in selecting an arbitrator to resolve disputes that arise.
Source: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes: Title 42; Chapter 73; Sec. 7303.