Admitting a loved one to a nursing home often occurs in a flurry of activity. Whether the transition follows an unexpected hospitalization or involves a delicate transfer from home, it always involves handing the care of your loved one over to a nursing facility and its staff. Inevitably, there are questions, concerns, or sometimes serious problems that arise, and families are often left in the dark on who to call for nursing home complaints. Federal regulations governing nursing homes require that residents and their families have a right to file grievances without fear of retribution. They also require that nursing homes make prompt efforts to resolve grievances. This article will help you understand who to call for nursing home complaints and the resources to contact if the complaints aren’t resolved.
Tip #1: Identify the Correct Staff Member to Try to Resolve the Complaint Internally
The first step in resolving a nursing home complaint is to reach out directly to team at the nursing home that is responsible for your loved one’s care. Nursing homes are busy places that have many staff working for them, so it’s important to funnel your concern to the person or department who is responsible for that aspect of their care. Many times, a nursing home resident or family will deliver their complaint to the first staff member that they see and count on them to deliver the message. Too often, this results in the complaint being mishandled or dropped completely.
Determine the department that is responsible for the complaint and request to speak to the supervisor or manager of that department. For example, if your parent is concerned about their meals being served cold, you will want to reach out to the dietary manager or kitchen supervisor. Or, if your complaint is regarding wound care, reaching out to the Nursing Supervisor or Director of Nursing will get you the best results. Typically, the receptionist at the main entrance will have the contact information, including direct phone numbers and email addresses, for department managers.
Tip 2#: Ask to Speak to the Grievance Official
Sometimes residents or their families do not know which staff member to approach with a particular grievance, or they have multiple grievances that span the responsibility of several departments. Another resource is the Grievance Official. Federal regulations require every nursing home to have a Grievance Official, or a staff member who is responsible for overseeing the complaint process, receiving and tracking complaints through their conclusions, and spearheading complaint investigations.
When deciding who to call about a nursing home complaint, consider requesting a meeting with the grievance official. While the person assigned to this responsibility can vary, it is often a member of the social services department. If the grievance official isn’t immediately available, request to complete a grievance form.
Information about filing a grievance is required to be posted prominently in the nursing home. You may request to receive a copy of the nursing home’s grievance policy, which will outline the exact steps that a nursing home has promised to take to resolve a grievance. Additionally, it will have contact information for independent entities, such as state agencies, ombudsman programs, and quality improvement organizations where you may also file your grievance.
Tip #3: Seek out Assistance from the Nursing Home Ombudsman
The Pennsylvania Long Term Care Ombudsman program works to resolve issues and complaints for residents of nursing homes and their families. The Ombudsman program is also able to assist residents of personal care homes and assisted living facilities.
Pennsylvania ombudsmen are state-certified and receive training to advocate for consumers of long-term care services. Their mission is to ensure that all consumers of long-term care services can live with dignity and respect. An ombudsman is a powerful advocate to have on your side for a complaint about a nursing home. They can help by mediating your complaint and helping to find common ground and reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
Tip #4: Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is the state agency that is responsible for ensuring that nursing homes follow state and federal regulations. The agency regularly handles grievances from residents and their families who feel that their loved one is not receiving proper care or treatment at a nursing home.
The regulations governing nursing home are extensive. Did you know that the manual of federal regulations for nursing homes is over 700 pages long? And nursing homes in Pennsylvania are also required to follow state-specific regulations and fire safety regulations on top of that! Residents and families are often ill-equipped to understand if their complaint is a violation of federal or state standards. Contacting the Pennsylvania Department of Health to investigate the complaint allows a surveyor to look in-depth into your concern and determine if any federal or state standards were breached. If the complaint investigation results in a deficiency, the nursing home will be required to initiate a formal plan of correction that will be reviewed and monitored by the agency.
A Philadelphia nursing home neglect lawyer highly encourages families to request a grievance investigation from the Pennsylvania Department of Health for serious concern, especially those that may result in personal injury lawsuit against the facility. Their documentation of your complaints and ability to tie them to failures to meet federal standards can be valuable information if you are considering a personal injury lawsuit.
Tip #5: Know When to Call a Philadelphia Nursing Home Injury Lawyer
Sadly, not all nursing home complaints get resolved and have a positive outcome. Some complaints devolve into neglect, abuse, and preventable serious injuries. These concerns are simply too substantial for a consumer to deal with on their own. Reaching out to the Philadelphia nursing home injury lawyers at the Wieand Law Firm provides residents and their families with aggressive representation for these types of cases.
Our lawyers have in-depth understanding of nursing home regulations, staffing requirements, and the daily operations of nursing homes and assisted living communities. This means that our Philadelphia nursing home neglect lawyers are well-equipped to investigate complaints and hold negligent nursing homes liable for inadequate care.
Call the Philadelphia Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers at the Wieand Law Firm, LLC Today
If you are dealing with a nursing home concern that has resulted in serious injury or death of your loved one, reach out to the seasoned nursing home neglect lawyers at the Wieand Law Firm, LLC. Our team is dedicated to assisting families who have suffered from inadequate nursing home care. We offer a free consultation so that you can understand your legal options free of charge. Additionally, our firm offers its personal injury services under a contingency fee agreement, so that we never take a fee unless we earn money for you. Call 215-666-7777 today or send us a message via the online form.