Residents and their families have a right to voice grievances without the fear of retaliation. Usually, when a family member or resident voices a grievances they are fearful of retaliation. When retaliation occurs it is often not in the form of physical abuse it is more covert, like not answering calls light as fast as they used to or making the resident wait in the dining room for an extended period of time. For this reason residents/families are often unwilling to voice a grievance. The fact remains that residents have a right to good, dignified care. When this is not happening a grievance should be filed. There is a proper way to voice grievances which will help the nursing home facility do a good investigation. For our life care planning clients, one of the services of our elder care coordinator is in handling grievance situations- both in reporting them appropriately and follow up after the complaint to lessen the burden on the family.
- Document the details of grievance. When did it happen, where did it happen, the details of what happened, who was involved, who was it reported too, what if anything was done, and what steps have you taken.
- Every facility has to have a person who is responsible for handling grievances. Find out who that person is. Put the grievance in writing. When a facility receives a written grievance they have three days to respond to the complainant in writing. The grievance may not be resolved be resolved in three days but the facility is responsible for giving an update on what is being done.
- Stay in close contact with the person in charge of grievances. Once they have reported back to you decide if you agree with their findings. If not, you can ask for a care plan meeting. If you have recently had a care plan meeting then ask for a family meeting. At this meeting you can discuss the details of the grievance and give the facility an opportunity to come up with a resolution.
- If the facility does not take responsibility for the grievance then you may consider calling the Elder Abuse & Neglect Hotline (1-800-392-0210). Calling the hotline will prompt an investigation by the State into the problem. When making a call to the hotline you need to let them know how the situation had a negative effect on your loved one. Example: not enough staff to take your loved one to the bathroom and as a result they now have a pressure sore from sitting in a urine soaked brief for an extended period of time or not enough staff to answer call lights and as a result the resident has fallen three times in a week. Giving these types of details will help the hotline classify the call correctly and start the investigation accordingly.
Remember, no facility is perfect. What determines a good facility from a bad facility is how quickly they responded when there is a grievance. While some facilities will sweep the grievance under the rug and claim there is no problem, a good facility will do a full investigation and work with the resident/family to reach a mutually agreed upon solution.
If you feel you need legal assistance with nursing home abuse or neglect, call our St. Charles, MO office 636-486-9009.