How to file a complaint about a nursing home

How to file a complaint about a nursing home 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

I am grateful we live in a country where consumers have a choice of the products and services they buy. Occasionally, you may live in a rural or remote part of the country where you only have a few choices – one car dealer, one dentist, one grocery store, one nursing home. So what do you do as a caregiver, or loved one who feels the care being provided by a local long term care facility (nursing home or assisted living) is not what it should be?

There isn’t really a process prescribed by law. Nor is there a right or wrong way to complain, but after years of dealing with long term care facilities, our firm advises the following course of action:

1. If you can move your loved one when you fear they are receiving poor care, do. Find another facility.

2. If you cannot move your loved one, and or you want to make your concerns known to the facility, ask to have an in person meeting with the DON (Director of Nursing) and Administrator. Take notes during the meeting and send a letter or email to the facility confirming your understanding of what their corrective steps will be.

3. If you have concerns about medication, ask to meet with the doctor face to face and again follow up in writing about next steps.

4. If you feel the neglect that occurred (or abuse) is so awful, and continuing despite your efforts to correct, notify your County Agency on Aging and Adult Protective Services Unit to file a formal complaint. If your loved one is still in the nursing home APS can perform an investigation.

5. If you feel the abuse or neglect was not corrected, call the Virginia Dept. of Health and file a formnursing home complaintal complaint 1-800-955-1819. You can also file and submit a written complaint here


6. If you feel your loved one suffered a permanent or life changing injury as a result of the abuse or neglect, contact an attorney that handles Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect cases in Virginia. We handle them in Western Virginia (North and South), Southside, and Central Virginia. We are happy to refer you to other attorneys across the State if we do not serve your area.

Be organized. Ask questions. Take notes. Write things down. Ask more questions. And if that doesn’t help, let third parties help.

Everyone deserves the best care. Everyone. No matter how old, how sick, how aware they are. Don’t we all still believe in the Golden Rule?


About the author

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at

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