It’s natural for families with a loved one living in an assisted living community or on hospice to do whatever they can to ensure their loved one is protected during this vulnerable time. While licensed to do whatever they can to ensure their loved one is protected during this vulnerable time. While licensed hospice care providers are required to meet federal regulations (such as being Medicare certified), sometimes things do happen. If your loved one is neglected or abused, it is essential to know what to do and how to report it.
What Forms of Elder Abuse Are There?
In end of life care, elder abuse can come in many forms. In most cases, it is generally broken down into six different categories; including:
- Emotional/Mental Abuse
- Financial Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
How Do I Contact the Proper Authorities?
All complaints should be very specific and made in writing (keeping a copy for your personal records). Once completed, mail the letter using a certified mail return receipt to provide proof of delivery. Your message should explain the issue in a clear and concise manner, and include (but not limited to):
- Dates, times, and type of circumstances where adequate care or symptom management was not provided or when abuse occurred
- Names and titles of everyone involved
- Name of any all managers, directors, or staff members you spoke to on the issue
- Full contact details (full name, address, telephone number, email, when you can be reached, etc.)
- Date of letter
- Address to the Complaint Division for your State Licensing and Certification Division
- Full name of your loved one who is receiving (or received) the care, date they entered hospice care, and type of terminal illness involved
- The hospice medical record or case number
It is also recommended to list each issue separately and to number the problems. For instance, if you had four problems with your outpatient hospice care; then you would start by writing – “I am reporting about four issues I believe violate the standards or hospice care.” Then follow it with a list of each problem, to assist the State surveyors in reading and understanding what occurred and what you think they need to look for.
General elder abuse and neglect should be reported to the Department of Social Services. For example, if you are living in California, you would visit www.cdss.ca.gov and search the Adult Protective Services (APS) unit in the county your loved one lives. Click here for a list of the contact information for each county.
If your state has an official form, print and complete the information, and submit it to the correct address listed. You can also include any other personal note or evidence (i.e. pictures) that you would like to include for record.
You can also search for an elder abuse hotline in your state.
For specific issues with a hospice agency, you can report this directly to Medicare’s Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC-QIO). These issues can include any of the following:
Complaints about drug errors
Complaints about unnecessary or inappropriate surgery
Complaints about unnecessary or inappropriate treatment
Complaints about not getting treatment after your condition changed
Complaints about getting discharged from the hospital too soon
Complaints about incomplete discharge instructions and/or arrangements
Why Is It Important to File a Complaint?
Complaints can be made both during and after your loved one received their end of life care. However, many often feel it is not worth the effort once their loved one’s care is over. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Everyone person is entitled to quality care; whether they are using outpatient hospice care, palliative care, in-home hospice care, or some other form of care. In order to improve the quality of care for everyone involved (caregivers, patients, their families, etc.), you need to alert the proper authorities whenever you experience any form of unsatisfactory care services.
“If you need assistance with finding a caregiver, home health provider, or hospice agency, use The Grace Provider Finder or contact a Grace expert at 877-273-0110.”