A family member can file a grievance on behalf of a loved one who resides in a nursing home, and the facility must work quickly to solve any issues. The resident can file the grievance themselves, but if they cannot do so because of medical or cognitive impairment, a family member or representative can submit it on their behalf.
Every nursing home should be a designated grievance official responsible for handling all complaints. Every nursing home facility must implement a grievance policy and inform each resident or their family members how to file a grievance, the time frame for a complaint review, and provide a written response.
In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released revised nursing home facility regulations that broadened and strengthened a resident or family member’s ability to resolve complaints through a facility’s grievance process. Residents and their family members must feel free to file complaints and not fear retaliation or discrimination from the nursing home or its staff members.
Nursing home facilities must inform their residents, family members, or representatives that they have the right to file a complaint orally or in writing.
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When to File a Grievance
Nursing homes must provide a certain standard of care when it comes to their residents. When the facility or employees breach this standard of care, residents or their family members should report the incident.
Medicare lists some reasons why you should file a grievance on behalf of your elderly loved one:
- If you witness abuse: As the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) describes, you could observe physical abuse such as hitting, slapping, pushing, striking with objects, yelling in anger, and making threats, as well as incidents of emotional, sexual, or financial abuse.
- If you witness neglect: Neglect may involve not changing a resident after an episode of incontinence, not bathing residents regularly, ignoring bedridden residents, not providing wound care, not keeping residents hydrated and well-fed, and dismissing a resident’s call for help.
- Staffing issues: Severely understaffing of nursing homes can lead to incidents of neglect, which can become more widespread.
- Unsafe or unsanitary conditions: Unsafe or unhealthy nursing home facilities can lead to residents experiencing a slip and fall accident, severe infections, or even death.
Filing a Grievance
When you are filing a grievance against a nursing home, it is essential to provide as much information as possible to investigators so they can quickly resolve the issue and take immediate action if necessary.
Document the Facts
When collecting information for a nursing home grievance, it is crucial to detail:
- The victim’s statements.
- Eyewitness statements from staff or other residents.
- Any injuries or physical evidence (with photos, if possible).
- Location and timeline of incidents.
- Statements of nursing home administrators regarding the incident.
- Doctor’s reports and notes.
Keep in mind that your initial grievance could serve as the basis for a criminal prosecution, federal or state investigations, or a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for damages and losses on your loved one’s behalf.
Who Receives the Complaint
Once you file your complaint with the nursing home facility, you can also report the abuse or neglect to several other entities for help:
- Local law enforcement: If the incident requires urgent attention.
- Adult Protective Services: Many states have 24-hour hotlines to report abuse.
- State attorney general: Their offices can investigate and possibly bring a criminal or civil action against the nursing home.
- Long-Term Ombudsman Care Program: They handle complaints and advocate for improvement for nursing home residents, free of charge.
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care can help you find the ombudsman’s office in your area.
Response to a Grievance
Once you file a grievance, a nursing home must respond in writing within a reasonable amount of time. According to Justice in Aging, a reasonable period for the resident or family member to receive a response is between 10 days to two weeks, with more urgent complaints getting immediate attention. At the end of an investigation, the resident or family member must receive a written decision regarding the grievance.
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Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC Today
If your elderly loved one suffered nursing home abuse or neglect, and you or a family member filed a grievance against the nursing home, the facility should act on your complaint. If the facility did nothing to remedy the situation, you might be entitled to compensation for damages and losses on your loved one’s behalf. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at (800) 235-0444 to discuss your case with a member of our team. The initial consultation is free, and we do not shy away from tough cases.