Report Shows 33% Increase in Nursing Home Complaints
There are probably lots of things to complain about at a nursing home. The food is bland, the staff is overworked, and other residents sometimes make too much noise. Though annoying, these things are not dangerous in themselves. But they can be. When they are, residents and their families are encouraged to make a complaint to their state survey agency.
An article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News reported on a disturbing trend: from 2011 to 2015, there was a 33% increase in nursing home complaints across the country. The scary part? There were fewer residents—nursing home occupancy had dropped at the time!
On one hand, this can be taken as a good thing: residents and their families are increasingly unafraid of speaking up when they see something wrong. There are better systems in place for keeping track of these complaints and following up on them.
The bad news: they needed follow up.
More than half of these complaints were “high priority” or involved immediate jeopardy to the nursing home residents. (Immediate jeopardy must be investigated onsite within two days; high priority in ten days.) The Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services found that one-third of the complaints were valid. Most of these related to quality of care or neglect of the residents.
It’s shocking what goes on in some nursing homes. One caregiver in an Ottawa nursing home was caught on videotape asking a dementia patient, who was unable to communicate, “Why is it taking you so long to die?” That caregiver was fired after the video aired, as were two other staff member who witnessed the abuse but said nothing.
Examples of other complaint-worthy cases include a resident who needed help with a bowel movement and wasn’t given assistance until 3.5 hours later; a resident who was beaten by his roommate, who had attacked others 30+ times prior; residents being left in bathtubs by caregivers, and much more.
When Should You File a Complaint?
Medicare recommends filing a complaint when you are worried about the healthcare, services, or treatment you or another resident received (or did not receive) at the hands of nursing home staff. Examples include abuse, neglect, unsanitary conditions, mistreatment, chronic understaffing or inattention to patients, hazardous conditions, and more.
In California, you can file a complaint by calling (800) 236-9747 or (916) 552-8700; or going to CA.gov’s website form.
If you’d like more information about what nursing home neglect looks like, speak to Long Beach elder attorney Travis Siegel. Siegel Law is dedicated to protecting the rights of the elderly and taking on abuse and neglect, wherever it occurs. Call (562) 645-4145 for a free consultation. If you see or suspect something, don’t stay silent. Get help today.