Problems with the nursing home: what you can do

Two seniors are having a serious conversation with a younger woman

Perhaps you have suspected it for quite a while. Something is wrong. You yourself or a relative live in a care facility. But care, hygiene and attention do not meet your expectations. Perhaps the meal plan is unbalanced and the food regularly cold. Or the rooms are cleaned only superficially. Or the person in need of care is not washed regularly or diapers are not changed quickly enough.

Taking action yourself in the event of inadequate nursing care

Deficiencies in care facilities unfortunately occur again and again. This does not mean, however, that you as the person concerned must remain inactive. We show you what options you have in the event of inadequate care and how best to proceed.

How you can tell that something is going wrong in a nursing home

If something goes wrong once, it is not yet a fundamental problem. Mistakes happen everywhere, even in care facilities. It is good if the staff or the nursing home management tries to talk to you directly afterwards. But if errors occur more frequently, you should take action. In particular, you should act if there are regular problems in the following areas:

  • poor personal hygiene
  • regular falls
  • Unchanged diapers
  • fixations, for example on the bed or in the wheelchair
  • bad food
  • personal things "disappear
  • Invade privacy
  • unpleasant smell
  • Uncleaned / unkempt rooms

In case of problems in the nursing home – document deficiencies!

If you believe that the home is performing poorly or even not at all, be sure to document the deficiencies. Make notes, keep a diary. Get witnesses to help. The next time you visit your relative or have a conversation at the facility, you could take a friend with you, for example. Also photos and / or video recordings can be a good way to document deficiency conditions.

In addition, the resident, his authorized representatives or legal guardians may request to see the care documentation.

This is how you proceed in the event of conflicts in the nursing home

First of all, you can present your complaint to the responsible staff and involve the home advisory board. If this does not bring any improvement, you should promptly seek a conversation with the home’s management. It makes sense to make an appointment for this and not to have the conversation directly in an annoyance situation. Raise your concerns and make specific demands for improvements. Arrange another meeting and see whether there has been an improvement by then.

If this also does not lead to a change, there is the possibility to call in the care insurance and the home supervision and inform them about the problems. There is a responsible home supervisory authority in every federal state.

If these measures also fail to bring about an agreement, you have the option of taking legal action with the help of a lawyer. In any case, you should document your actions in writing with dates.

Pay less in case of defects

If the agreed services show deficiencies, you can reduce the fee under certain conditions. Before the fee is reduced, you must explain to the company in good time and explicitly that you want to reduce the fee because of poor performance. It must be explained at which times which services are deficient and in which amount the reduction is intended.

What reduction amount might be appropriate needs to be weighed for each case. The decisive factor will be the extent to which the consumer is impaired in the use of the living space and in the way of life as a result of the defective performance. Therefore, we recommend seeking advice before enforcing a reduction – for example, at your consumer center.

If you receive benefits from long-term care insurance or social assistance, you can only make a reduction within the scope of your own contribution. In this case, you should contact the nursing care insurance fund and the social welfare agency, because they can also reduce their shares of the costs.

Move! Who bears the costs?

If your efforts are unsuccessful, consider moving to another care facility. Possible new facilities can be named to you by the care insurance company or a care support point in the vicinity. Tips for finding a nursing facility can be found here.

The contract at the previous facility must be terminated. If there is an important reason for the termination in the area of responsibility of the facility and if the reason for termination is so serious that the resident cannot be expected to continue the contract until the end of the notice period, termination without notice is also possible.

Under certain conditions, you do not have to pay the costs of the removal yourself. Namely, if the right to terminate without notice existed due to a gross breach of duty by the facility.

Before you enforce a reimbursement, however, it makes sense to seek advice. Because: If, for example, it turns out that a home resident has resisted the implementation of improvement measures, the home does not have to bear the costs.

Damages and compensation for pain and suffering are your right

If you or your relative has suffered material or physical damage as a result of your stay in the home, you have a right to reparation. However, practice shows that the enforcement of such claims is often difficult, which is why legal advice should be obtained beforehand.

An example: you have contracted with the nursing home to have the home do or wash your relative’s laundry. In the process, clothes are repeatedly lost. In this case you are entitled to compensation.

You can claim compensation for pain and suffering if, for example, a pressure ulcer has developed due to incorrect nursing measures.

Counseling in the states

Other questions?

We also advise individually on the subject of care. Look now to see if we offer counseling in your state in person, by phone, or online:

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