Illinois Bill Could Outlaw Anonymous Complaints Against Nursing Homes

State Representative Mike Unes has sponsored a bill that would require callers with complaints against nursing homes to provide a name. The bill aims to weed out false reports, but many organizations, including AARP Illinois, feel that removing the anonymity from complaints may make people hesitant about reporting errors.

U.S. News discusses the situation further:

Authorities in Illinois would not investigate anonymous calls alleging abuse or neglect atnursing homes or assisted living facilities under legislation being considered by state lawmakers, with proponents saying the measure aims to cut back on false accusations and harassment.

Those opposed to the bill, however, say it would put residents’ safety at risk.

“What difference does it make who made the complaint? They need to investigate the facts of the claim,” says Gerardo Cardenas, a spokesman for AARP Illinois. “If you make an anonymous complaint to the police they still have to investigate what’s going on.”


David Besnette – who runs the Assisted Living Directory website, which often features posts about how people can file anonymous complaints in different states – says a complaint tied to a specific person can result in that person being moved to another facility, which can be a traumatic and substantial undertaking.

“Seniors and other home care residents are already oftentimes in a vulnerable spot due to health issues, mental decline or memory disorders,” says Besnette, who has been writing about long-term care issues for more than 11 years. “Being a whistleblower means potentially losing the care they rely on.”

He adds: “I would certainly think twice about complaining if my name was attached to it each time.”

Yet proponents say allowing anonymous complaints, which are more difficult to investigate, opens the door for fraudulent yet time-consuming gripes. The Illinois Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes in the state, says the state’s legal system is ripe for abuse because it allows for unlimited attorney fees, and that those with false complaints have no fear of reprisal.

Illinois’ Governor, Bruce Rauner, has yet to indicate whether or not he would sign such a bill.

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