As the population of older adults continues to increase in the United States, so does the need for safe and compassionate long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, the reality is that elder abuse is a very real and very prevalent threat to nursing home residents. If you believe that a loved one is being abused or mistreated in a California nursing home, you have options. Toward that end, the Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC explain how to file a complaint against a nursing home in California.
California Nursing Home Statistics
If you are concerned enough to be contemplating a complaint against a nursing home in California, you are hardly alone. Consider the facts and figures released by the California Attorney General’s office:
- The United States Census Bureau projected in 2000 that California’s elderly population will have doubled by 2025 to 6.4 million – a larger growth rate than any other state.
- The California Department of Finance projects that the number of California residents aged 65 and older–those who are most likely to need nursing homes or other long-term care–will nearly double between 2010 and 2030.
- About 110,000 Californians live in about 1,300 licensed nursing homes and about 150,000 live in about 7,500 licensed residential care facilities for the elderly.
- Another 150,000 or more Californians are estimated to live in unlicensed assisted living facilities that may or may not be able to care for them properly.
- Many residents of both licensed and unlicensed facilities suffer from dementia and may be given dangerous antipsychotic drugs to sedate or restrain them improperly.
- In 2009 the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes reported that 13% of all complaints to the California Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman involved abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation, over twice the national rate of 5%.
How to File a Formal Complaint Against a California Nursing Home
Complaints relating to nursing homes are filed with the Licensing and Certification Division of the California Department of Public Health (DPH). DPH is the state agency that enforces nursing home laws and regulations and investigates complaints and allegations of abuse or neglect made against a nursing home in California. A complaint may be filed in person at the district office closest to you or online through the DPH website.
Before filing a formal complaint, you may wish to try speaking with the administration at the facility to resolve the problem. You can also contact your local long-term care ombudsman for assistance. The long-term care ombudsman’s job is to help residents of long-term care facilities when they have problems related to the care they receive at a facility. You can locate your local long-term care ombudsman by navigating to the California Department of Aging website.
What Else Can I Do If I Suspect Abuse or Neglect at a California Nursing Home?
Elder abuse is a crime in California and may also be the basis for a civil lawsuit. If the situation warrants, you may need to contact the relevant law enforcement agency and make a report. You should also consult with an experienced elder law attorney about your legal options if your attempts to resolve or address the problem have been unsuccessful.
Contact Our Los Angeles Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about how to file a complaint against a nursing home in California, contact the experienced Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group APC by calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.