I’ve warned my clients, friends, and readers of this blog in previous posts several times, but I know that I can’t say it enough, so I’ll say it again in today’s post: If you believe that your loved one in a Massachusetts nursing home, Massachusetts nursing care facility, Massachusetts long-term care facility or “Massachusetts Memory Care Center” (the newest term that the nursing home industry has developed to capitalize on the exploding elderly population suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia), is being neglected, mistreated, or abused in any way, you cannot rely on your reporting it to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to come in and address the problem rapidly or effectively. They are not the cavalry – they are not going to come and “save the day” any time soon.
The Massachusetts DPH is part of a massive state bureaucracy. It is over-worked, under-staffed, and while many of those who work there are dedicated to their jobs and sincerely care about their responsibilities, many more aren’t so dedicated. Trust me, as a Massachusetts nursing home neglect lawyer, I know. I’ve seen many such a lazy DPH staffer, in the many years that I’ve handled Massachusetts nursing home neglect cases. But the average person who isn’t familiar with these matters doesn’t know this (they wouldn’t be expected to.) They mistakenly think, if they suspect that their loved one is being neglected or abused, that if they threaten the nursing facility that they will report the matter to the state DPH, the nursing facility will react in fear and leap into action to immediately and permanently correct the neglect or abuse.
If you’re in such a position right now, you’d be a fool to believe that such a result will occur. The fact is, most Massachusetts nursing facilities are fully aware that it takes the DPH months to even begin to act on a complaint against a Massachusetts nursing home, Massachusetts rehabilitation center or nursing facility. More so, they know that once the DPH does get around to acting on the complaint, the nursing home will have long eliminated any evidence of the reported neglect or abuse, and as a result, in many instances the nursing facility will not be punished by the DPH. And I’m sorry to say this, but you’d be very foolish to think that the standard technique (read: ruse) that 99.9% of these facilities employ to assuage complaining family members, will be in any real way effective.