Unionized nursing home workers recently received training from the state Health Department on how to file incident reports for substandard care at area facilities.
Officials at Local 1199 Service Employees International Union said the training session conducted by Mark Hennessey, director of the Health Department's Center for Healthcare Provider Services and Oversight, represented a first in the state.
Complaints can be submitted anonymously to the Health Department, but workers were told it is important that details surrounding the time and location of the alleged infractions, including possible eyewitnesses, improves the chances that state inspectors would be able to enforce standards of care, the union said.
Areas focused on filing comprehensive complaints, including unsafe staffing, lack of supplies and lifting equipment used to transfer residents in and out of bed.
“We have to recognize that these facilities are people’s homes. When we talk about them we should take the ‘nursing’ off and just call them homes,” said Tanya Goffe, an 1199 SEIU delegate and certified nursing assistant at Safire Northtown, a Town of Tonawanda nursing home. “We want to make sure that our residents get the care they deserve.”
In explaining why nursing home workers need to play a role in protecting residents' rights, Todd Hobler, 1199 vice president, nursing home division, said many people do not have family members to advocate for them.
"The state authorities cannot monitor each institution around the clock. 1199 members are on the front line of providing care to seniors that is largely funded by taxpayers," Hobler said.