On The Front Porch series about Long Term Care

Let's talk: You'd like to know who watches over health care in Illinois?

Who is responsible, and what if I have a complaint?

topics: regulations | Nursing homes | inspections | Assisted Living | Home Health care | Adult Day Care | Illinois Department of Public Health

This is a friend-to-friend discussion in the "On The Front Porch... Let's talk" series about being a caregiver.
Its good to know who to contact just in case you have a problem or question.

There are approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities or services in Illinois --including Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, Shared Housing, Home Health Care Agencies -- and the Department of Public Health is responsible for the licensing and regulating virtually all of them. The Department has many divisions, and responsibility for the different facilities might not be easy to determine. The Department’s Bureau of Long-term Care is probably a good place to start.

State inspectors perform follow-up surveys and complaint investigations. There are on-site surveys to verify conditions in a facility. Enforcement actions can be taken if a facility fails to meet compliance regulations. Surveys are not just for health care compliance, but also include fire and safety standards.

The Public Health Department also assists the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in certification of facilities that participate in federal programs for patient care payment.

Assisted Living and Shared Housing
There are Illinois regulations about the contract between residents and the facility, about staffing (for both, but different between ALR's and SHE's), the physical premises, and for the resident's apartments within the facility. The facility does not have to provide meals, but if they do, there are rules about preparation, nutrition and sanitation.

Home Health Agencies
The Office of Health Care Regulation (a part of the Illinois Department of Public Health) issues licenses and regulates Illinois' Home Health Care, Home Nursing, Home Service and Placement Agencies. The office may license, inspect or certify those that must comply with state and federal regulations. The office also operates a 24-hour a day hotline (1-800-252-4343) that people can call to register complaints against health care facilities.

The Office can investigate and issue credentials for Health Care Professionals, including background checks.

If you wish to file a complaint, the Department's website lists a toll-free hotline at 1-800-252-4343. There is also a complaint form with instructions available online.

The Illinois Department on Aging keeps a web page about filing complaints at complaint against a long term care facility. They recommend that you contact your Illinois Long Term Care Ombudsman as a first step in discussing a situation. Use this page to find Long Term Care Ombudsmen; Area Agencies on Aging in your Illinois county.

The Illinois Legal Aid Online publishes a guide which I highly recommend. Although it is slightly dated info (2008), you'll find advice on many topics, including how to resolve problems with long term care providers. Here's the link: Senior Citizens Handbook -- Personal and Long-Term Care

The Department of Public Health's web page is at this link: Illinois Department of Public Health

More Info
We have more information about how long term care facilities and agencies are regulated, and about filing complaints, at Let's talk: Who is watching over health care in your state?

Good luck! You are invited to drop me a line and tell me your story about how you solved situations in long term care for your loved one. We may publish selected ones if they would help educate our audience (we will not include names or email addresses). Click to send your email.

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