The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which certifies some nursing home facilities in the United States, states on its website that reasons for filing a complaint include abuse, neglect, insufficient staff numbers, unsafe or unsanitary conditions, and dietary problems.
If sustaining abuse of a mental or emotional nature wasn't already upsetting, it's advised to also look for physical signs of elder abuse, such as:
- Unexplained bruises
- Open wounds
- Untreated injuries
- Broken eyeglasses or frames
- Internal injuries or bleeding
How To Document Nursing Home Abuse
Every state authority will recommend gathering as much detailed information as possible before submitting a report of nursing home elder abuse.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration suggests providing as much detail as possible and include the full names of staff and other residents involved (if any).
When describing the abuse, specify dates and times along with locations. All of this information can be structured into a timeline of events, should the abuse require that type of documentation.
Take pictures of any injuries and write down statements from the resident, and any other people willing to speak.
If there are financial matters involved, do your best to obtain copies of financial statements.
All of this information will help investigators if the authorities decide to pursue the matter.
It’s possible to submit a report anonymously. However, if you want to know the results of the investigation, you should include your name and contact information.
Where to Report Nursing Home Abuse
If the abuse is physical or sexual in nature, you should call the police or other law enforcement immediately.
If the matter involves neglect or problems related to the nursing home being understaffed or not following regulations, it might be best to contact your state’s department of health or human services.
Each state has an agency with regulatory responsibility for nursing homes. Medicare maintains an up-to-date list on the website.
If the nursing home in question is part of the Medicare/Medicaid system, then it is certified by the State Survey Agency in that state. Oftentimes, this is the same agency that has regulatory responsibility for nursing homes.
In addition to the regulatory agency, each state has a long-term care ombudsman who will assist with complaints and help resolve problems.
The federally-administered ombudsman program is comprised of volunteers and paid staff who are trained to assist loved ones and nursing home residents. In 2014, the program investigated over 191,553 complaints on behalf of 125,642 individuals.
To find the long-term care ombudsman in your state, you can use the Consumer Voice location tool on the website of the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.