Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina
Each year, the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program receives roughly 8,000 complaints on behalf of those in long-term care facilities in the state. These come from the 2,039 facilities providing long-term care in South Carolina. These facilities include nursing homes, community assisted care and assisted living places where residents are cared for in South Carolina. Together, all facilities provide provisions for 43,678 beds.
What Is the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program?
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which is a division of the South Carolina Council on Aging, helps residents by:
- Assisting with quality of life and quality of care concerns
- Educating residents on their rights
- Educating residents on their benefits
- Assisting long-term care residents and their families about the facilities
- Helping residents and families through appeals and the grievance process
- Speaking with residents of long-term care facilities and their families, their caregivers and those in the community about issues with long-term care facilities in person or by email or telephone
Rights of Residents in Nursing Home Facilities
Residents of nursing home facilities have the following rights:
- The right to privacy during personal visits and medical appointments
- Meetings with legal advisors should also be governed by privacy
- The resident should be able to voice complaints without fear of reprisal
- Self-determination is a right that residents should have
- The right to information about the facility
- The right to information about their care
Quality of Care Issues
Worrying about a loved one in a nursing care facility is stressful. So is living in the facility if you are not receiving the quality of care you deserve. So, what is quality of care? It is doing what should be done when it is needed.
Issues with the quality of care in nursing homes are:
- The staff’s inability to work together as a unit
- Staff is insufficient to care for the residents’ needs
- Improper actions taken by staff
- Improper distribution of meds to residents
- Staff physically abusing a resident
- Staff who neglect residents
- Staff who take actions or do not act appropriately, putting residents in gross and immediate danger
- Staff who verbally abuse residents
- Staff who show residents disrespect
Dealing With Abuse
In many cases, the first step is to report the problems to the nursing home administrator to try to resolve the issue. It is a good idea to write the complaint out and request that a written response be forwarded to you. If you are not comfortable following this procedure, you might:
- Make contact with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program that is charged with receiving and resolving complaints and is free for South Carolina residents. Of the 8,000 complaints received annually, roughly 87 percent are resolved. The phone number must be posted in the nursing home, however, if it isn’t, the office can be reached at (800) 868- 9095.
- A private meeting will be arranged with the ombudsman and the resident and their family if desired, enabling an atmosphere where issues can be freely discussed.
- The ombudsman will obtain your permission to talk to staff and administration at the nursing home, and if granted, will contact them. Once this contact has been made, the ombudsman will inform the resident and their family if desired about what happened. If the result is not what is needed, the resident can file a complaint.
- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will investigate the complaints you make.
How to File a Complaint With the DHEC
The complaint can be mailed to:
Bureau of Certification/Health Regulation
2600 Bull St.
Columbia, SC 29201
- The DHEC can be reached by phone at: (800) 922-6735 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Complaints about nursing home abuse should be concise and specific. You must say exactly what happened and when and how it occurred. Maintain a copy for your records. This is followed by an investigation of the matter. During unannounced visits, the investigators may speak with you and other residents as well as staff and the administration.
The Resolution of a Nursing Home Investigation
If a problem is discovered, the nursing home will have 10 days to fix it. Once this plan of correction is formulated, the nursing home must follow it or pay a penalty. If the resident who files the complaint wants to be anonymous, they can but will not be privy to the results.
Morris Law Firm in South Carolina
Morris Law supports the rights of nursing home residents and fights to protect them. If a resident or their family wishes, we will represent them in all proceedings, including processes that address lack of resolution and can file a lawsuit against them. Call us at (843) 232-0944, or contact us online to proceed.