What can you do about substandard care in a nursing home?

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Richmond Nursing Home might close, but what happens to the patients?

What can you do about substandard care in a nursing home?

The Richmond Times Dispatch reported recently that the Envoy of Stratford Hills, a 196-bed nursing home in South Richmond, may be closing because it was terminated from the Medicare program , raising questions about the transfer of its remaining residents to other facilities.  The Department of Medical Assistance Services will work with the Envoy to help relocate the patients if the home closes.

More generally, however, this story also raises questions about who can help when a resident of a nursing home (or assisted living facility) receives inadequate or poor care or is not treated with the respect he or she deserves.
One proactive thing families can do before placing their loved one in a facility is to check out Nursing Home Compare, a five-star rating system based on a number of factors including the annual state inspections each facility receives from the Department of Health Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC).  Families can also check the complaint history of a facility by contacting the local long term care ombudsman (see below).  While the Nursing Home Compare website and complaint history offer important information, it is critical that residents and family members also visit the facility to see for themselves how residents are treated, how engaged they are, what the atmosphere of the place is including how the place looks, smells and sounds.
If problems arise after admission, a resident or family member may want to file a complaint with the OLC by calling 1-800-955-1819 or by filing a complaint on-line.  OLC is the agency responsible for the annual survey/inspection of nursing facilities and for determining whether the facility is in compliance with state and federal regulations.
Local long term care ombudsman around the state are another important source of help for residents and their concerned family members. An ombudsman is an advocate for residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  While ombudsman do not have regulatory authority, they are able to provide valuable information and assistance to residents to help them resolve concerns about their care and rights.  To find the local ombudsman who handles nursing homes in your area, you can use the “Find Your Ombudsman” function at www.elderrightsva.org).


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