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How can I make a complaint about a family member's care?

Whether your family member lives in a residential care home or a skilled nursing facility, concerns over care issues often arise. It’s important to keep these issues in perspective and be reasonable in your expectations. However, if the health and safety of your family member is involved, take prompt action to resolve the problem. For example, you have every right to see that your family member receives doctor-ordered therapy and proper nutrition and to ensure that medications are administered properly.

When you have a concern, the best approach is to try to work with the facility to resolve any problems. Unless the issue poses a serious threat to the health and well being of your loved one or others, start by talking with the person in charge of the unit or section where your family member resides. Then, if necessary, work your way up the ranks to the administrator. If there still is no resolution, you should contact your state’s long-term care Ombudsman office. An Ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. This office can provide information on how to find a facility, assess the quality of care, and assist you with complaints. In some situations, you may also wish to seek advice from an elder care lawyer.

If your family member lives at home, and you are concerned that their health or safety is at risk because they are unable to meet their own needs or because you suspect that they are a victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation, then you should all Adult Protective Services (APS). APS agencies investigate reports of abuse of older adults and adults with disabilities and arrange for services such as advocacy, counseling, money management, out-of-home placement or conservatorship.

For more information, contact:


National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center

Provides a directory of each state’s Ombudsman office.


National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (formerly NCCNHR)

The Consumer Voice is a consumer organization that advocates for the rights of nursing home residents and provides information about residents’ rights.


National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)

NAELA maintains a list of elder care attorneys across the country.


National Center on Elder Abuse

Directed by the U.S. Administration on Aging, NCEA is a resource for policy makers, social service and health care practitioners, the justice system, researchers, advocates, and families.