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FAQs

How Can I Find Out If A Nursing Home Is Understaffed?

Sometimes you can tell with your own eyes that there are not enough staff in the facility. When you arrive at the facility, you may not be able to find anyone to answer your questions or respond to your requests. Staff members may also tell you that the facility is short-staffed.

Each nursing home in California is licensed by the California Department of Health Services, Licensing and Certification Program (“Licensing”) . Their telephone number is 1-800-236-9747. Their website is www.dhs.gov/lnc. Licensing has offices around the state, with locations listed on their website. The branch offices maintain records for each nursing home in that locale, which should include results of annual surveys showing whether the nursing home is understaffed. Licensing, however, has fallen behind in surveying nursing homes, and recent surveys of the facility are not always available. Available surveys should be accessible on the department’s website, but they are not. At the present the only way to look at the Licensing file for a nursing home is to go to the branch office in charge of the nursing home.

Medicare has some on-line survey results of nursing homes on its Nursing Home Compare website. That website is www.medicare.gov/NHcompare. You can look up the website’s file on the nursing home. Medicare includes a section in each entry called, “Nursing Home Staffing.” It will you tell you how that nursing home compares to other nursing homes statewide and nationwide. Does the nursing home have less staff than the state average or more staff? Because most nursing homes are understaffed, this information is not always helpful, but it can give you some idea of how staffing is at that facility.

The Medicare website does not tell you whether there have been any citations issued by the State against the nursing home. Citations are issued for serious violations of nursing home regulations, and they are graded “AA”, “A”, or “B”. California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, CANHR, has a website that gives some information on citations, www.canhr.org. In some cases the information is not up to date, because the licensing agency may not have visited the facility recently. The California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division, Senior Care Program, licenses residential care facilities for the elderly and assisted living facilities (R.C.F.E.s). Their telephone number in Sacramento is 916-657-2592. Their website is http://ccl.dss.cahwnet.gov. They maintain results of their surveys of RCFEs at their branch offices. Such information is not presently available on the web.

Many nursing homes maximize their own profits at the expense of their highly vulnerable elderly and disabled residents.
National Senior Citizens Law Center
Many nursing homes maximize their own profits at the expense of their highly vulnerable elderly and disabled residents.
National Senior Citizens Law Center
Many nursing homes maximize their own profits at the expense of their highly vulnerable elderly and disabled residents.
National Senior Citizens Law Center
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