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.”
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:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Senior HelpLine is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you decide to go forward with filing a complaint with IDPH, you can do so by:
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:
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:
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.
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.