Choosing a skilled nursing facility to entrust with the care of yourself or a loved one is a very big deal, and doing it well means delving into a lot of details about each facility on your list of local options. Among the more important of these details are whether or not a facility has had more complaints or violations registered against it than the average facility, and whether or not those issues have been resolved appropriately. So what do you need to know about checking for complaints and violations?
The first thing to know is where to get the information you need to check into complaints and violations related to any skilled nursing facility you're considering for your care needs. The Long Term Care Ombudsman's office in your area is a great resource for information on both of these issues. The mission of this agency is to safeguard the rights and well-being of individuals residing – whether temporarily or permanently – in long term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities.
In carrying out that mission, the Long Term Care Ombudsman takes, records and investigates complaints against facilities from patients/residents and their families, as well as facility staff. They also collect other information related to quality of care, including inspection and survey reports that detail any violations of care standards and/or regulations, as well as any citations or fines assessed against facilities. Additionally, they follow up on complaints and violations and record whether they are resolved by the facilities in question, and if so, exactly what was done to resolve them. All of the information they gather is available to the public, so all you have to do is give them a call and ask for the facts on skilled nursing facilities on your list.
Medicare is a good source of information on violations and/or penalties related to skilled nursing facilities via their online facility comparison tool. Just look up any facility you're interested in with their search function and you'll find inspection/survey reports are provided on that facility, including detailed accounts of any health and safety violations found, any penalties for those violations, what has been done to resolve those health and safety issues and how the number of violations/citations a facility has received compares to state and national averages.
Finally, ProPublica also offers an online tool to look into the inspection/violation records of long term care facilities. This tool lists skilled nursing facilities in each state, allowing healthcare consumers to compare the records of facilities in their area quickly and easily.
By taking the time to check into the complaints and violations records of facilities in your area, you'll arm yourself with the information you need to choose the best of the bunch in your area. This will serve to put your mind at ease, knowing that you've done what it takes to ensure that you choose a skilled nursing facility that can deliver the high quality care you expect and deserve for yourself or your loved one.