HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN A NURSING HOME INSPECTION
The Michigan Department of Community Health, Bureau of Health Systems (BHS) inspects nursing homes to ensure that “living in a Michigan nursing home is a positive and enriching experience.” Nursing homes, county medical care facilities and hospital long term care units that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds are inspected at least one each year. The surveys are unannounced. The annual survey happens six to fifteen months from the previous survey. The inspection will normally last three to four days. Nursing homes that do not receive Medicare or Medicaid funds are inspected every other year.
During these inspections, the BHS inspectors (called surveyors) find out if the facility meets state and/or federal standards. The BHS surveyors examine how care is delivered and evaluate residents’ day-to-day life in the home.
The survey process includes the following steps:
- Touring the nursing home – a tour by several surveyors begins as they enter the nursing home.
- Observing the care given to residents in the home.
- Talking with residents about their care and day-to-day life. The family members of residents may also be interviewed by the surveyors.
- Reviewing resident’s records, including records of residents no longer living in the home.
- Meeting with members of the resident council to talk about life in the home.
- Meeting with key staff.
Talking with residents and family members is a key part of the survey. Residents and families know the most about life and care in the home. It is very important for residents and families to talk to the surveyors about their views of the home’s performance and any problems.
Surveyors want to know about the home’s staff, physician services, medications, food services, activities and how the home responds to problems brought to their attention. They also want to know if the facility is a comfortable place to live. Is help, if required, provided with walking, bathing, dressing, getting in and out of bed, toileting, or getting to and from activities? Is help provided in a timely manner?
If you would like to talk to a BHS surveyor during the inspection, your Local Long Term Care Ombudsman can assist you. At the beginning of each annual inspection, the survey team contacts the local ombudsman. As part of the inspection process, the ombudsman is able to share their observations about the facility with the team. The ombudsman will also share the names of residents and family members who would like to participate in the inspection process by speaking with the surveyors.
If you have an immediate concern about the nursing home, it is best not to wait until a BHS survey to seek action. Your local ombudsman can give you information about other options to address your concerns, including how to file a formal complaint with BHS. If you file a formal complaint with BHS, it will assign a specific complaint investigator who will go to the home to investigate your concerns.
Please contact your local long term care Ombudsman if you would like them to share your name and contact information with the survey team during an inspection. Your local Ombudsman can also provide you with information on how to address your concerns with the nursing home as well as filing a complaint with the Bureau of Health Systems.