This is what you do if you are not getting answers to your complaints in nursing home

What do you do when you have a complaint about care provided to your loved one in a nursing home? Knowing the chain of command in a nursing home is a good start.

What is the Chain of Command in a Nursing Home?

The chain of command is the line of authority and responsibility that exists in a nursing home, and the facility should have a written chain of command in its manual provided to all residents and their families.  The chain of command provides instructions how you can address complaints when you are getting no answer from the immedite caregivers.

Where does the chain of command begin in a nursing home?  The immediate caregiver is usually a certified nurses aide (CNA) who is responsible for daily care, such as bathing the resident and getting him/her out of bed, brushing teeth and helping the resident take care of basic daily activities.  The CNA is often the most important person for your family member in a nursing home.

The next level is the licensed practical nurse (LPN) who is less hands-on than the CNA. The licensed practical nurse gives medications and treatments, inserts and removes catheters and performs services that the CNA cannot.

The next step up is the registered nurse, who is responsible for overseeing the CNAs and LPNs.  The registered nurse starts and stops IVs, sets IV drip rates and makes sure that the CNAs and LPNs are doing their jobs.

How do you get the written Chain of Command from the Nursing Home?

Okay, so what do you do if you have a complaint in a nursing home? Begin by asking the nursing home for its facility manual that has the written chain of command. The nursing home should have a written chain of command in its manual and a written policy explaining how to fie a complaint.

The chain of command at a nursing home follows a predictable path: If you have a problem with the immediate care provider, start with the Certified Nurse Aide and then the Charge Nurse on duty.  If that gets you nowhere, contact the Director of Nursing and if that doesn't solve your problem, go to the Medical Director.  The Medical Director is a physician responsible for overseeing all aspects of the nursing home.

Practical Tips you can take to improve care now

Here's a tip:  Put your complaint in writing and insist upon a written response from the nursing home.  When you document your complaint and get a written response, you have a record and the nursing home can't ignore that.  Even better, ask for a meeting with the head of the department.  If there is a staff nurse responsible for your unit (one section of the nursing home), ask for the nurse to sit down with you and discuss solutions for your complaint.

You should make a point of attending Care Planning meetings with the careproviders.  The first Care Plan meeting should be held within 21 days of admission to the nursing home and family members are always welcome to attend.  The Care Plan meeting is a great opportunity to raise your complaints in front of your loved one's care providers.  Bring a written list of the things that you would like included in the Care Plan.

If all else fails, you shoud contact your county's ombudsman.  Every county in New York has an ombudsman who is trained to advocate and problem solve for nursing home residents and their families.

If you have any questions, I welcome your phone call

If you have any questions or would like to speak with me, I welcome your telephone call on my toll-free cell phone at 866-889-6882.  If you want more information about nursing home negligence, you can request my free book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, from the home page of my website, www.protectingpatientrights.com