Disagreements with a nursing home can come up regarding any number of topics, and almost none is trivial because they involve the day-to-day life of the resident. Among other issues, disputes can arise about the quality of food, the level of assistance in feeding, troublesome roommates, disrespect or lack of privacy, insufficient occupational therapy, or a level and quality of activities that doesn’t match what was promised.
Following is a list of the interventions a family member may take in order to make sure a nursing home is providing the level of care they desire, in ascending order of degree. Move down the list as the severity of the problem increases or the facility does not respond to the less drastic actions you take. In all cases, take detailed notes of your contacts with facility staff and descriptions of your family member and his or her care. Always note the date and the full name of the person with whom you communicate.
- Talk to staff. Let them know what you expect, what you care about and what your family member cares about. This may easily solve the problem.
- Talk to a supervisor, such as the nursing chief or an administrator. Explain the problem as you see it. Do it with the expectation that the issue will be favorably resolved, and it may well be.
- Hold a meeting with the appropriate nursing home personnel. This can be a regularly scheduled care planning meeting or you can ask for a special meeting to resolve a problem that wasn’t resolved more informally.
- Contact the ombudsperson assigned to the nursing home. He or she should be able to intervene and get an appropriate result. Contact information for the Ombudsman Program in your state can be found at: www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman
- If the problem constitutes a violation of the nursing home resident’s rights, report it to the state licensing agency. This should put necessary pressure on the facility.
- Hire a geriatric care manager to intervene. An advocate for you who is not as personally involved as you and who understands how nursing homes function as institutions can help you determine what is possible to accomplish and can teach the facility to make the necessary changes.
- Hire a lawyer. While a lawyer may be necessary to assert the resident’s rights, the involvement of an attorney may also escalate the dispute to a point where it is more difficult to resolve. This is why this is listed as the second-to-last option. But when all else fails, a lawyer has the tools to make the facility obey the law.
- Move your relative. If nothing else works, move your family member to a better facility. This may be difficult, depending on the situation, but it may be the only solution. It does not prevent you from pursuing legal compensation for any harm inflicted on the nursing home resident while at the earlier facility.
If you have questions about which facility is best for your loved one, it is important to speak to an experienced elder care coordinator. To learn more about our life care planning services at Alperin Law, please visit http://alperinlaw.com/practice-areas/life-care-planning/.