Regardless of the complaint or issue of concern, there are some helpful hints that are quite useful.
- For support and to witness discussions, it is prudent to have at least one other person present when you have meetings/discussions with the nursing home, the LTC Ombudsman or oversight agency such as the Department of Public Health (DPH). As appropriate, this could be a LTC Ombudsman, a friend, etc. If you receive permission from all parties, you can tape record the discussion. We sometimes forget important parts of conversations when discussing the ever-stressful topic of care for our loved ones, so having another person there is helpful and also reassuring.
- If necessary, before even getting into issues/problems, discuss any confidentiality concerns you may have directly with whomever you are speaking with. Your loved one has a right to privacy and, as appropriate, you can agree on “rules of the road” before any discussion begins.
- If a Family Council exists, inform the Council of your concerns as they may serve as an additional resource. Others in the facility may be experiencing the same problems, and the primary purpose of a Family Council is to address nursing home facility issues with the administration. You should also consider joining the Council. If your loved one is able, he/she should also notify and join the Resident Council for the same reasons.
- If other residents in the nursing home experience the same issues/problems, you and your loved one should ask your respective Councils to file a complaint with DPH. Since a Family or Resident Council complaint represents multiple residents, attention to the complaint may be expedited.
- It is important to have as much documentation as possible to support your claims. This starts with a written log of your observations and/or the concerns expressed by your loved one. Be as specific as you can including dates, times, staff involved, actions taken by the nursing home and/or its staff, witnesses, etc. The more information the better.
- This documentation should continue when you are speaking with the nursing home about the issues/problems. Keep written record of whom you spoke with, what their responses were, what actions were promised, etc. This information may be very important if you do not receive a satisfactory response and/or rectification of your complaint.