Protecting Your Rights in Long-Term Care Facilities
You (or your representative) have the right, without threat or fear of retaliation, to:
- make suggestions,
- make complaints, and
- present grievances.
You can do this on your own behalf or on behalf of others. If you think your rights have been violated, you have several ways to get help. Below are some options. You can pursue some or all of the options, depending on what seems right for you.
For assisted living facilities...
- Review your Resident Agreement carefully. The assisted living provider must give you a copy of their established grievance procedure.
- File a grievance with the assisted living provider. The provider must promptly respond.
Read the Regulation: Code of Md. Regulations 10.07.14.35
For nursing home facilities...
- Review your Admission Agreement carefully.
- Complain to the Resident Council. A resident council is a group of residents who meet regularly to discuss their concerns. Any resident can join the council. If there is a resident council, the nursing home must listen to their concerns. The nursing home must also act upon the concerns and recommendations of the residents. Nursing facility staff may not attend a resident council meeting unless invited by the resident council. Read the Regulation: Code of Md. Regulations 32.03.02.10
- Complain to the Family Council. A family council is a group of family members who meet regularly to discuss concerns. Any family member can join the family council. If there is a family council, the nursing home must respond to all written questions and concerns from them within 14 days. Read the Law: Md. Code, Health-General § 19-1416; Read the Regulation: Code of Md. Regulations 32.03.02.10
- File a Complaint with the Nursing Home Administrator. Nursing homes must have a procedure for grievances or complaints. You can make this complaint in person, orally or in writing, by telephone or by mail, or anonymously. The nursing home must respond to your complaint within 30 days. Read the Regulation: Code of Md. Regulations 10.07.09.16
For both assisted living and nursing home facilities...
- Contact the Office of Health Care Quality
- Contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman
- Contact an Attorney
- Report suspected abuse or fraud.
Contact the Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ), part of the Maryland Department of Health. OHCQ monitors the quality of care in Maryland’s health care facilities and community-based programs. OHCQ investigates complaints and can fine the nursing home or assisted living facilities. The best way to file a complaint is submit the Online Complaint Form to OHCQ. You can also mail or email the Paper Complaint Form. You can also call them at 410-402-8015.
Contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO). The Ombudsman is a free advocate for residents who will try to help you resolve your concerns. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program helps residents in long-term care facilities maintain their legal rights, control their care, and retain their personal dignity.
The Ombudsman will assist you with voicing complaints to nursing home staff and to the Office of Health Care Quality and can help you find an attorney or other resources to help you. The Ombudsman will keep your information confidential and will not act without your permission. The Ombudsman makes regular visits to nursing homes. You can also call for assistance. To find your local Ombudsman, call the statewide office at 1-800-243-3425.
Consider seeking the assistance of an Ombudsman if you are:
- A resident of a long-term care facility and are either dissatisfied with the quality of care you are receiving, or are having a dispute with the facility
- A friend or relative of a resident in a long-term care facility, concerned about the care the resident is receiving
- Interested in improving the quality of care for residents of long-term facilities
An Ombudsman can:
- Help you to understand your legal rights
- Help to implement your legal rights.
- Attempt to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of long-term care residents.
- Provide assistance and support to residents until disputes are resolved.
- Provide information and referral services regarding long term care issues.
- Identify insufficiencies in the care of long-term residents
- Advocate for improvement in long term care legislation and policy.
Read the Regulations: Code of Md. Regulations, Title 32, Subtitle 3, Chapter 2
Contact an attorney. Depending on your situation, you may wish to consult with an attorney. An attorney can evaluate the facts and offer options. Learn more about getting legal help in Maryland.
Report Suspected Elder Abuse or Fraud. You can contact the following organizations to report nursing home abuse or fraud:
- Department of Human Services, Adult Protective Services
- Department of Aging, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
- Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Division (if the individual has Medicaid insurance)
- Department of Health, Office of the Inspector General
If you believe a crime is in progress or someone is in immediate danger, dial 9-1-1.