FAQ for Residents and Families of Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities
This page contains questions frequently asked by residents and family members about the search process to find a long term-care facility and what to look for, issues that arise when an individual is a resident in a long-term care facility, how to file a complaint if you have a concern, what the role of family and resident councils are in a long-term care facility, as well as some helpful responses.
Searching for a Long-Term Care Facility
When choosing a long-term care facility, first select a facility and schedule a tour. During this tour, observe how the staff interacts with residents and the different environments the residents encounter in the facility. When your guide takes you to see a resident's room (never enter without resident permission or guidance), note cleanliness and how organized it is, ability for closets and drawers to be accessed easily and safely, and whether towels and washcloths are available. Additionally, ask for the administrator to read through the inspection survey with you.
- Is the facility clean and well-maintained?
- Is the temperature comfortable for residents?
- Are any odors pervasive throughout the facility or in isolated areas?
- Are those odors temporary?
- Are pleasant areas available for private dining and family visits?
- Can you easily find posted instructions on how to contact the ombudsman, the county health department, the adult protective division of the county department of social services and the county Medicaid office?
Resident quality of life
- Are residents engaged in activities?
- Is there a schedule of activities posted?
- Are there a variety of activities offered?
- Are staff interactions with residents pleasant and respectful?
- Do residents appear well groomed and well cared for?
- Are resident bathrooms clean and organized?
- How and where are resident's toiletries and personal items stored?
- Are call lights within reach?
- Are call lights answered promptly?
- Do residents have easy access to a private telephone in a quiet place?
Quality of meals
- Do meals appear appetizing?
- Are menus posted?
- Do residents who need assistance with meals receive the help they need?
- What do the current residents think about their food?
Nursing Home Compare is a resource that posts inspection survey results and information about the quality of care each nursing home provides. TN Department of Health: Health Care Facilities provides access to the abuse registry, facility inspection survey findings, and secured bed listings.
For a listing of long-term care facilities contact information in Shelby, Lauderdale, Fayette and Tipton counties, click here.
Nursing Home, Home for the Aged, Assisted Living: What Is the Difference?
Assisted living residences are also certified by the State Department of Public Health and provide housing and support services to residents. Minor assistance with daily activities is provided, but not to the same extent as in nursing homes. Assistance may include bathing, dressing, meals, and housekeeping. Residents of assisted living facilities do not need regular on-site medical attention.
A home for the aged is a supervised personal care facility, other than a hotel, adult foster care facility, hospital, nursing home, or county medical care facility that provides room, board, and supervised personal care to 21 or more unrelated, non-transient, individuals 60 years of age or older. Home for the aged includes a supervised personal care facility for 20 or fewer individuals 60 years of age or older if the facility is operated in conjunction with and as a distinct part of a licensed nursing home.
Nursing homes provide 24-hour long-term care for individuals for a variety of reasons, including physical vulnerability, need for rehabilitation or specialty care, or disability. These facilities have been licensed by the State Department of Public Health. Services provided include around-the-clock nursing help, assistance with all activities of daily living, and various forms of rehabilitation care such as physical therapy.
For Current Residents
What Should I Do If I Have Concerns?
Address your concerns directly with facility staff, such as the director of nursing, social worker, residential care director, charge nurse, or administrator. If you are uncomfortable addressing the concerns directly, the ombudsman program can help, with your consent.
Residents may take their concerns to the resident council
Family members of residents have the legal right to form a family council to address concerns
The Department of Health and Human Services Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services is responsible for investigating complaints in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted housing facilities and licensed home care agencies. Call their complaint line at (877) 287-0010.
Filing a Complaint
When a problem arises with a specific licensed and/or certified facility, complaints should be filed with the Department of Health Division of Health Care Facilities. You have two options for filing your complaint: call toll-free (877) 287-0010 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. *(Download Complaint form not available - call only)
What Are Family & Resident Councils?
Residents have the legal right to form a resident council, which is a group of residents who meet in private to discuss aspects of their facility that they like or want to change. Any resident may take his or her concerns to the resident council. If other residents have similar problems, it may be beneficial to address them as a group. Family members of residents have the legal right to form a family council to address concerns. Family members may attend the meeting of an existing council or create their own. For information on how to start or improve resident or family council meetings, click here.
Where Can I Find More Information?
Resources for seniors and their families:
Resources for finding long-term care facilities:
Resources for Medicare and Medicaid:
Resources for state regulations for long-term care facilities:
- Tennessee standards for assisted care living facilities
- Tennessee standards for homes for the aged
- Tennessee standards for nursing homes