One of the industries hardest hit by the continuing public health emergency are nursing homes. Even before a deadly virus entered the United States, these types of care facilities were already under investigation over allegations of neglect and abuse.

Making a complaint to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) should be the start of not only advocacy on behalf of the resident or loved one, but also an investigation to get to the facts.

A Drop-Off in Addressing Valid Complaints

During the first four months of the pandemic, complaints have been on the decline, with less than three percent substantiated. Out of the 739 grievances, 21 were substantiated. Last year, substantiated complaints were near 1,300 out of 3,240 reported.

The timing of the significant drop-off coincides with federal authorities ceasing annual inspections and investigations. Instead, the focus turn to controlling infections and allegations of misconduct, including any fatalities.

Another factor is the lack of visits from family, friends, and those who serve in advocacy roles. Being locked down effectively shut down the sources of complaints. With some facilities re-opening their doors, valid issues could once again arise and perhaps be substantiated.

There is growing concern that the policing of the industry is falling woefully short during a challenging and frightening time. The priority should be ensuring the safety and well-being of elderly and disabled residents. That demographic is most susceptible to contracting COVID-19, not to mention abusive actions and outright neglect by facility staff.