HOW TO CONTACT
NURSING HOME OWNERS
If you or a relative live in a nursing home, the owner of that home should want to make sure you are satisfied with the care provided. You are their customer. However, many nursing home residents and their representatives do not know how to contact the owner about any problems they experience. This Fact Sheet explains how to contact a nursing home owner to express concerns you may have.
WHO OWNS NURSING HOMES?
Nursing homes are owned by individuals, partnerships and corporations. The majority of nursing homes are owned by corporations. Many of these homes are private for-profit facilities. In Michigan, less than 25 percent of nursing homes are run by non-profit organizations. Most of the non-profit nursing homes are run by religious or fraternal organizations or hospitals.
Less than 10% of nursing homes are owned and operated by the county.
WHO RUNS NURSING HOMES?
Under federal law, all Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes must have a governing body. The governing body establishes policies for the management and operation of the home and appoints an administrator to run the facility.
One of the policies a governing body must establish is a grievance procedure. The nursing home must have written policies on how to file a complaint with the facility. This policy should tell you how to contact the governing body if you are not satisfied with the response from the home’s staff.
WHEN TO CONTACT THE OWNER
When you experience a problem in a nursing home, it is good to work up the chain of command to seek attention to your concern. For example, if you are concerned about a nursing problem, you might start by contacting the charge nurse on duty. If that contact is not effective, you should consider contacting the Director of Nursing, and next, the administrator of the home.
If the administrator and other staff members do not address your concerns in a satisfactory manner, you can go beyond the nursing home’s staff to get help. A number of options exist including filing a formal complaint with the Michigan Department of Community Health, Bureau of Health Systems seeking legal assistance, or contacting your local ombudsman for help.
Another option is to contact the owner or governing body of the nursing home. It is best to put your complaint in writing and to ask for a written response. By putting your complaint in writing, you can later show others that you gave the home an opportunity to address your concerns.
Owners who care about their business will take your concerns seriously. While the owner may not directly resolve your problem, they have the authority to make changes at the home. Just contacting the owner may convince the nursing home staff to take your concerns more seriously.
On the other hand, your concerns may be caused by the owner’s or governing body’s operating policies. For example, if the owner does not allocate funds to hire capable staff members or buy needed supplies. If this is the case, your contact with the owner may not solve the problem but may be useful in other ways. For instance, if legal action is taken later, the owner’s failure to respond to your concerns may strengthen your case. Copies of your letters and other information may also help state or federal inspectors investigate problems and enable enforcement actions to be taken.
YOUR RIGHT TO COMPLAIN
If you file a grievance with the nursing home, they must make “prompt efforts” to resolve your concerns. Federal and state law prohibits discriminating or retaliating against anyone who files a grievance with the nursing home or files a complaint with the state licensing agency.
Please contact your local ombudsman office if you need help contacting the owner of a nursing home in Michigan.