Assisted living and nursing homes are legally obligated to care for their residents and protect patients’ rights. Understandably, family members assume their loved ones will be safe in these facilities and receive the care and respect they deserve. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Concerns about nursing home neglect or abuse should be taken seriously. If you suspect a family member is being mistreated, it’s time to file a complaint against the assisted living home or nursing home facility.
If you need assistance with filing a complaint against a Georgia assisted living home, MG Law can help. Our skilled Georgia nursing home lawyers can answer any questions you might have and help you file complaints with all the appropriate agencies.
Speak with the Nursing Home Administrator
Before you file a complaint against a nursing home, consider speaking with the facility administrator. Nursing homes must record resident complaints and open an internal investigation. When you ask to file a written grievance, you should receive a form to fill out. Once you complete the form, ask for a copy. If you leave your contact information, the nursing home must report their findings to you.
If the nursing home says it doesn’t have a grievance form, you can write a letter yourself. Keep copies and create a document describing how you delivered the letter.
Filing a written grievance with the nursing home first can be beneficial in several ways, including the following:
- Your written grievance will likely count as legal notice;
- You will create a paper trail and documentation that might become part of civil or criminal proceedings; and
- In some instances, a written grievance might prompt policy changes at the facility.
If the nursing home cares about its residents and takes your written grievance seriously, it can help protect other residents from similar neglect or abuse.
Georgia Department of Community Health Complaints
One option to file a complaint against an assisted living home is the Georgia Department of Community Health, Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation (HFR). If you believe a licensed facility in Georgia administered sub-par care, fill out the online complaint form. Before starting the form, be sure you have the following information:
- Name and address of the facility involved,
- The resident’s name and your relationship to them,
- Contact information for witnesses or anyone else who might be involved, and
- Details regarding the alleged neglect or abuse.
You can file an assisted living complaint anonymously, but it’s best to provide your name and contact information in case HFR wants to reach out directly.
Complaints can also be filed over the phone if you prefer. You can leave a voicemail at 800-878-6442. Your message should be concise and factual. Leave your name, contact number, the name of the nursing home involved, the resident’s name, and a short description of the issue.
Don’t despair if you don’t receive any contact shortly after filing a complaint. With over 10,000 facilities in Georgia, complaints are a daily occurrence. Sometimes, an investigator might conduct a surprise inspection of the facility based on your complaint. Once they complete the investigation, you’ll receive an update on the outcome. There’s no official guideline on how long this process might take. It could be a few weeks or even months.
When an investigation yields confirmation of abuse or neglect, HFR will likely fine the facility.
Filing an Assisted Living Facility Complaint with an Ombudsman
The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is another potential resource. The main office trains local ombudspersons to help resolve complaints regarding nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout Georgia. Find the community ombudsman for the area where the facility is located.
File a Report with Law Enforcement
If your family member’s life is in danger, call 911. If they are not in immediate peril, consider calling the police department in the town or city where the facility is located. Depending on the circumstances, the police department might send someone to meet you at the nursing home or ask you to come to the station and file a report in person.
Not all reports will be treated as criminal activity, even if the nursing home has violated the law. The police department might declare it to be a civil matter and decline to take a report. Don’t give up if the police are not helpful. Your family member still has rights, and you can help them hold responsible parties accountable in court.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is a growing problem in Georgia assisted living homes. It can take multiple forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse. Knowingly inflicting physical or psychological harm to an older adult or willfully depriving them of services needed to avoid physical or mental harm is elder abuse.
Recognizing potential red flags can reduce the risk of serious harm. Not all signs definitively point to abuse or neglect, which is why an investigation is necessary. Possible warning signs of abuse include the following:
- Bruising or cuts,
- Marks left by restraints,
- Unexplained injuries,
- Behavioral changes,
- Torn undergarments,
- Fear around certain people,
- Dehydration, and
- Missing possessions.
Pay attention to the resident’s surroundings too. Is your loved one’s room being cleaned regularly? Are they receiving the proper dosage of medications? The facility might be guilty of neglect if you see soiled linens, trash never getting dumped, or food left sitting out. Neglect differs from abuse in that the perpetrator doesn’t intentionally mean to harm the resident. While not intentional, neglect can still have catastrophic results, including death.
Contact a Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you need assistance to file a complaint against an assisted living home in Georgia, please speak with the Georgia nursing home abuse lawyers at MG Law. It’s important to file a complaint when you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect. However, investigators are almost always concerned with the facility’s actions and the laws they violated, not necessarily the effects on the victim. That’s why you need a legal advocate who is focused on getting justice for your family member.At MG Law, advocating for our clients is our top priority. If you suspect a family member is the victim of assisted living home abuse or neglect, contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.