Nursing Home FAQs

Families searching for the right nursing home for a loved one may have questions about the safety and operation of those facilities. Even when a relative is already a resident of a nursing home, family members may want more clarity about the degree of care one should expect in a long-term care facility.

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about nursing homes. If you don’t find the answers you need, or if you believe your relative has been harmed in a nursing home, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation: 1-931-962-1044.

Are nursing homes subject to health inspections?

Yes. The Tennessee Department of Health’s Health Care Facilities division conducts surprise inspections at nursing homes.

What’s the difference between a skilled nursing facility and a nursing home?

A skilled nursing facility receives payments from Medicare; a nursing home does not. However, the term “nursing home” is generally used to describe both types of facilities. Skilled nursing facilities also are required by law to employ a minimum number of certified healthcare providers, such as registered nurses and physical therapists.

How can I find a safe nursing home?

You can view health and safety reports online. When inspectors find violations at nursing homes, they report those violations in detail in their reports. Many violations discovered during inspections pose no immediate risk to residents; however, families may want to be aware of those violations anyway. A home that is cited repeatedly for the same violations may have lax policies that could lead to more serious health and safety problems for residents.

What rights do nursing home residents have?

Federal law has outlined rights for nursing home residents, which include:

  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to be in control of one’s own finances, or to choose a person to handle financial matters
  • The right to determine one’s own schedule, including choosing when to sleep and wake, and to participate in activities
  • The right to a home-like environment that allows a resident to be as independent as possible
  • The right to participate in one’s own medical decision-making, including choosing a doctor, refusing medications, and determining a preferred course of treatment.

What are some of the most common types of abuse and neglect in nursing homes?

Violent physical abuse is less common than neglect. According to inspection reports, malnourishment is a prevalent problem in nursing homes. It may occur when residents are served poor-quality food, and when staff neglects to monitor resident weight loss. Other health problems that arise from neglect include dehydration, poor resident hygiene, unsanitary living quarters, untreated skin lesions, and depression. Poor sanitation procedures may also lead to illnesses and infections in residents.

What should I do if I suspect my relative is being abused or neglected in a nursing home?

If you believe your relative is in imminent danger, call the police. To report suspected abuse or neglect, contact Tennessee’s Adult Protective Services at 1-888-277-8366 and the Health Care Facilities Division at 1-877-287-0010.

Are nursing homes liable for abuse and neglect that causes resident injuries?

Liability is determined on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, when an attorney proves a resident’s harm was a direct result of abuse and neglect, the resident may be entitled to compensation. If abuse or neglect results in death, the resident’s family may be entitled to compensation.

What should I do if I can’t resolve a dispute I have with a nursing home?

If you’ve discovered a problem with your relative’s care and feel the nursing home has either disregarded your complaint or failed to make the changes you requested, you can contact the state’s long-term care ombudsman. The ombudsman may be able to mediate a solution to the problem or offer advice for how to proceed.

Who should I call if I need legal help?

John R. Colvin has helped families in the Tennessee Valley settle their complaints with nursing homes. Some nursing homes may attempt to avoid assuming responsibility when a resident suffers an injury or illness caused by abuse or neglect. But when you have legal representation, a nursing home is more likely to be cooperative.

If you need help for a loved one who suffered an injury or illness in a nursing home, fill out our online form or call us at 1-931-962-1044 to request your free consultation.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama