How to handle a problem
Problems occur in all nursing homes because people work there. People are not perfect and will make mistakes at times. It is the action taken or not taken by you and the nursing home to correct problems that is important. The following is meant to be a guide and process to follow to get problems addressed and fixed to your satisfaction. If at any time you feel you are not getting a satisfactory resolution, please advance to the next person or authority in the list below to get resolution. I encourage you to keep a notebook detailing the problem, date, time, names of individuals involved, and actions you and the staff have taken to correct the problem. The notebook will be very helpful in recalling details if you need to advance to higher level of authority.
- Speak Directly to the Individuals Involved
Many times individuals fail to realize there is a problem. Speaking up in a non-threatening way can help focus the staff on the problem and bring about a quick resolution. If the staff indicates the problem is out of their control or to big of a problem for them to handle alone, ask what you can do to help or whom else you should go speak to about the problem. Above all, remain calm and in control of your emotions. Anger will bring nothing more than a negative reaction from others.
- Speak to a Supervisor of the Individuals Involved in the Problem
Ask to speak with the immediate supervisor of the staff members involved. If it is a Certified Nurse Aid, speak to the charge nurse. If it is a charge nurse, speak to the Director of Nursing. Follow the same pattern for other disciplines.
- Obtain a Copy of the Nursing Home’s Grievance Policy / Procedure
Medicaid regulations and state law require nursing homes to have a written grievance or complaint handling policy or procedure. Follow the procedures outlined. The procedure will designate a staff person, usually a Social Worker, to review and follow up on grievances brought to their attention. Sometimes the policy will outline other individuals to contact within the nursing home, such as the administrator, if you are still not satisfied after speaking with the Social Worker. The policy may further list individuals outside the nursing home, but still connected to the nursing home, such as an owner or company official.
- Contact the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman
The Ombudsman is empowered by federal law to intervene on the patient’s and/or families behalf in regards to nursing home problems. Confidentiality is maintained if patient or family request. The Ombudsman will investigate your problem and assist in resolving the problem on your behalf with the nursing home.
- Report Problem to State
This agency is required to investigate complaints involving the health or safety of patients within two working days. The agency can only take punitive action against a nursing home when during their inspection/visit they prove a problem exists and it violates nursing home regulations. This agency licenses nursing homes and inspects nursing homes on a yearly basis. When surveyors are in a nursing home, take advantage of the opportunity you have to speak with them regarding your concerns. Surveyors are required to interview patients concerning the quality of care they are receiving from the nursing home.
- Last, Don’t Ever Give Up!
It can be frustrating at times when you feel no one cares or is listening to you. Don’t give up. Find that person in the center or government agency that will listen and help you.