Complaining: A caregiver’s responsibility and obligation

Lise Cloutier-Steele

In October 2011, the CTV News Channel aired a segment on the importance of complaining. During the segment titled The Art of Complaining, the reporter stressed that Canadians don’t complain as much as they should, and offered the advice below to consumers of all types of products and services, which would include long-term care as it is a service for which a monthly fee is collected.

There are times when complaining is unavoidable. If you or your loved one is not getting what you’re paying for from a long-term care facility, this is what you should do:

REACH FOR THE TOP – complain in good faith to the highest authority at the institution. But if your attempts to correct a problem within a nursing home are ignored, contact the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. A hotline number to the Ministry is posted in all local nursing homes. Use it if you must. Our tax dollars are paying for that service, too.

RECORD YOUR DISCONTENT – put it in writing in all the right places. For example, in the case of negligence or abuse such as bruises and bed sores left untreated, any power of attorney authority can request to have his or her observations recorded in the personal medical chart of the concerned resident. Power of attorney authorities should also ask to review the medical chart to make sure that his or her observations are in fact recorded.

KEEP A LOG – getting into the practice of maintaining a log is very important. It can help a caregiver or power of attorney authority keep track of efforts to improve the care provided to a resident in a long-term care facility.

AVOID TANTRUMS AND INSULTS – even if you are insulted or disrespected for complaining.

TREAD SOFTLY – but be firm about your intentions to do whatever it takes to get a problematic care issue resolved in a satisfactory manner.

DON’T GIVE UP – which is probably the best tip of all because that’s what many authorities who receive complaints are counting on. If a caregiver or power of attorney authority perseveres with a complaint, not only can it be beneficial to his or her loved one, but to others who may not have anyone to speak on their behalf.