preventing & Resolving problems
Unfortunately, it is common to experience problems with the long-term care system, from staff not answering call bells to administering medication without consent to abusing or neglecting the residents. You have a right to quality long-term care, and providers have an obligation to address your concerns.
Your Regional ombudsman
Long-term care ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. Ombudsmen provide information about how to find a facility and what to do to get quality care. They are trained to resolve problems. The ombudsman can also assist you with complaints.
Know your Resident’s Rights
It is very important for all of us — resident, family, volunteer, staff, friend, or citizen — to understand the legal rights of people who live in long-term care facilities. It is easy for residents and their family members to feel helpless and overwhelmed.
However, it is important to remember that consumers have choices, and there are many laws designed to protect long-term care residents. Knowing your rights will help ensure that you receive an excellent quality of care.
Tips for Resolving Conflicts
If a problem or conflict arises, communication and documentation are crucial. Communicate your concerns to the right people. See our Fact Sheet on Nursing Home Concerns: Where to go for help.
Go up the chain of command. If speaking to the attendant/staff person most directly involved is not successful, work your way up. Speak to the supervisor, the administrator/director/manager of the agency or facility, and, if necessary, the person to whom the administrator/director/manager reports.
Put your concerns in writing. Document details about the problem including each time the problem occurs, who was involved, and how the facility responded. Document all conversations. Keep copies of all correspondence
Remember that speaking up often results in better care and services rather than in retaliation. Frequently the "squeaky wheel" really does get the "grease".
Follow the agency/facility policy for grievances. The strength of this approach is that you are using the provider's own process. You can usually express your concern orally or in writing. If you voice your complaint verbally, it is a good idea to also submit it in writing.
Ask for a special care plan meeting to discuss your concerns. Make sure that someone with the authority to change things attends.
Unite with others who share the same concern.
Be calm, polite, and persistent.