Voicing Complaints, Seeking Remedies

Whether you are reporting an incidence of abuse, or just trying to get a better bed for a resident, you should always take the time to properly file complaints. The federal and state governments have established offices that handle complaints and seek remedies. A remedy is a form of rectification, a consequence that has to be made to correct a wrong or a violation.


If you have a simple, non-life threatening problem such as a case of petty theft or inadequate furnishings in a nursing home, then you should consult your state’s long term care ombudsman program. The job of an ombudsman is to follow up on complaints made about nursing homes. The ombudsman will investigate and explore possible solutions to correct problems that are found. You may need to contact your local Administration on Aging office to find contact information for local ombudsman services.

State Dept. of Health

Most states have a bureaucratic division within the Department of Health, called the Division of Licensing and Certification. The Division of Licensing and Certification is responsible for licensing each nursing home. It is also responsible for certifying homes for Medicare and Medicaid assistance. Needless to say, this division holds a lot of power over nursing homes and their administrators. The Division of Licensing and Certification assesses the quality of nursing homes in two ways. It conducts annual inspections of nursing home facilities, and it responds to complaints made by residents and families of residents. In most states, nursing homes are required to post the division’s toll free number in a place where residents and families of residents can see it. The Division of Licensing and Certification is obligated by law to investigate every complaint. If a complaint is substantiated, the division has the power to issue citations and impose punitive fines. Under the guidance of the Division of Licensing and Certification, all nursing homes that are found in violation of government regulation are required to create multi-step plans of correction. However, nursing homes have the right to appeal these findings. In light of this, if you wish to voice a complaint and utilize the services of Licensing and Certification, make sure the problem is researched properly and you have legitimate evidence in your possession. Evidence might consist of dated records, signed testimonies, eye witnesses, etc.

There are a number of ways in which one can seek remedies for a complaint that they have with a nursing home. Local and state governments provide offices such as the ombudsman and the Dept. of Health to investigate all ranges of nursing home complaints. Of course, if the complaint involves violence or abuse of any form, the local law enforcement should be consulted for more immediate action in cases of emergency.