The three most common complaints about nursing homes are slow response times, low-quality food and social isolation. These complaints can impact the recovery and well-being of residents within nursing homes. If residents or their loved ones notice these issues, it’s worth discussing them with the staff to try to resolve them. This is especially true of complaints that could pose a risk to residents.

While these complaints aren’t common to all nursing homes, people who need nursing home care may anticipate these issues and be hesitant to enter this type of facility for care. At many nursing homes, these complaints don’t arise, especially in those that are well-staffed and well-managed.  

Slow Response Times

Many nursing home patients complain about slow response times when help is requested. It may take too long for staff to arrive in response to a call button alert, or residents spend too much time waiting for care. Individuals may be left waiting in wheelchairs or fall when trying to move without assistance. On the more extreme end, some residents could develop bed sores if not moved according to their care plans.

Slow response times are often due to nursing homes being understaffed and lacking enough employees to give the best level of care to residents. Other times, facilities take on too many residents knowing too few nurses and aides are available to attend to everyone’s needs in a timely manner. Inadequate response times are important to mention to staff and management, as they can pose a serious risk if residents aren’t receiving assistance when it’s needed.

Social Isolation

Seniors in nursing homes often complain about feeling socially isolated. Part of this is again perpetuated by staffing shortages that mean seniors receive less face-to-face time with providers. While making friends with other residents can be helpful, it’s difficult in short-term care when residents come and go as treatment continues. Sometimes, the only consistent social support seniors receive in nursing homes comes from their own loved ones coming to visit, which can feel socially isolating when not everyone can spend long hours visiting.

Positive social interactions improve the health and well-being of seniors in nursing homes. Isolation can be particularly harmful cognitively and may even be linked to the development of dementia. While many nursing homes offer social settings to encourage interaction between residents, these efforts may be hampered by the lack of available staff members to facilitate events and programs.

Poor-Quality Food

Many complaints about food also arise in nursing homes. While seniors receive nutritionally complete meals, providing high-quality food that appeals to individual tastes on such a large scale is challenging. As a result, some nursing homes resort to providing bland foods that meet nutritional needs and rarely vary. This is the most harmless of the three complaints, but if a loved one notices a resident losing weight due to the quality of the food, they should discuss the matter with staff to see if any arrangements can be made to accommodate taste preferences.