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6 Reporting

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Illinois

If you believe that your mother, father or other elderly loved on is being abused or neglected in an Illinois nursing home, you should report the mistreatment as soon as possible. By reporting the mistreatment, you help to protect your loved one and, hopefully, prevent others from suffering similar harm in the future.

The following is a step-by-step breakdown of the process you should follow.

“By reporting the mistreatment, you help to protect your loved one and, hopefully, prevent others from suffering similar harm in the future.”

1 Do an initial evaluation of the situation.

Before you go any further in the reporting process, you should assess why you want to report the suspected abuse or neglect. It may be a good idea to write a summary of what has happened. Ask yourself:

  • Did I personally witness abuse or neglect of my loved one?
  • Have I seen signs of abuse and neglect such as cuts, bruises or bed sores?
  • Did my loved one complain about the treatment that he or she is receiving in the nursing home? Have fellow residents voiced similar complaints?
  • Who has inflicted the harm my loved one has suffered?
  • When did the harm occur?

The stronger you understand the foundation for your concerns, the better you will be able to communicate those concerns to the proper authorities.

You should also assess whether your loved one may be facing imminent harm. If so, you should take steps to immediately remove him or her from the facility.

2 File a complaint with your local Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman or the Senior Helpline.

Once you have a firm grasp on the situation, you should go forward with filing a complaint with the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

This program is operated by the Illinois Department on Aging. It provides a variety of services, including investigating complaints of suspected abuse, neglect and other violations of state nursing home regulations and taking steps to resolve them.

You can find the contact information for your local Ombudsman by going to the directory that is available on the Department on Aging website or by calling (866) 800-1409 (toll-free) or (888) 206-1327 (TTY).

The Ombudsman may try to work directly with the nursing home to address the issues raised in your complaint. If that does not resolve the issue, the Ombudsman will assist you in filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

You can also report the suspected abuse or neglect by contacting the Senior HelpLine at (800) 252-8966 (toll-free) or (888) 206-1327 (TTY) or by e-mail at aging.ilsenior@illinois.gov.

The Senior HelpLine is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3 File a complaint with IDPH.

If you decide to go forward with filing a complaint with IDPH, you can do so by:

Phone: (800) 252-4343 or (800) 547-0466 (TTY).
The hotline is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Fax: (217) 525-8885
Mail: Illinois Department of Public Health
Office of Health Care Regulation
Central Complaint Registry
525 W. Jefferson Street, Ground Floor
Springfield, IL 62761-0001

Before you file the complaint, download the IDPH Complaint Form. You can complete the form and send it to IDPH by fax or mail, or you can use the form to guide you in reporting by phone.

You should be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • Who is the resident who has been abused or neglect? Be ready to give the name and age of your loved one. You may also want to provide the names of staff members or administrators that you believe are involved.
  • What happened to the nursing home resident? Be prepared to describe the specific acts of abuse or neglect that you believe have occurred. For instance, was your loved one assaulted by a staff member? Is the nursing home failing to reposition your loved one, leading to bed sores? Are staff members administering medications without authorization?
  • When did the abuse or neglect occur? You should be able to provide specific dates or, at the least, the time periods in which the suspected mistreatment occurred.
  • Where is the facility located? You will need to provide the name of the nursing home and the city where it is located. You can find out or verify this information by going to the IDPH’s nursing home directory. You should also give the room number or floor where the abuse or neglect occurred.
  • How was the nursing home resident harmed or potentially harmed? You should be able to describe specific the actual harm your loved one has suffered or your concerns about the harm he or she could potentially suffer due to the abuse or neglect that is occurring at the facility.

You can file a complaint anonymously. However, if you want to receive written confirmation that your complaint has been received and to be informed of the results of the IDPH investigation, you must give your name, address and phone number.

IDPH will not reveal your identity as the one who filed a complaint unless:

  • You give written permission
  • Your identity is essential to the investigation
  • A court case is filed by IDPH against the nursing home.

It is important to know that the facility cannot retaliate against your loved one, including harassing, discharging or transferring him or her, simply because you have filed a complaint with IDPH.

The IDPH has a legal duty to investigate your complaint. If you report suspected abuse or neglect, the IDPH investigation must complete the investigation within seven days. All other investigations must be completed within 30 days.

4 Contact a lawyer.

In addition to filing a complaint with IDPH, you should contact a lawyer in order to ensure that your loved one’s rights are fully protected. The lawyer can serve as a liaison between you, the nursing home and IDPH during the investigation or can conduct an independent investigation into the suspected abuse or neglect.

A lawyer can also help you to assess your options for seeking relief through a lawsuit, including compensation for any physical, emotional or financial harm that your loved one has suffered.

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A Family Guide to Safety in Illinois Nursing Homes