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Ministry of Health

Complaints

NEW! Making a complaint brochure (print-friendly)

Assisted living registry (ALR) staff investigate complaints related to the health and safety of persons living in assisted living residences. Anyone with a concern about the health or safety of an assisted living resident can make a complaint to the registry, including: a resident, a family member, a friend of a resident, residence staff, health authority staff or a member of the public. Complaints can be made by phone, email, fax or in writing to the registry staff. This page describes:

Types of complaints investigated

The ALR has responsibility for concerns and complaints about health and safety in assisted living residences. Registry staff investigate allegations about circumstances where

  • a residence may be being operated in a way that puts the health and/or safety of residents at risk; or
  • an operator may be housing a resident who is unable to make the decisions needed to function safely in the semi-independent supportive environment of an assisted living residence.

The ALR does not have jurisdiction to investigate complaints about:

  • tenancy issues — such as failure to refund damage deposits or increases in rent without notice. Tenancy concerns may be referred to either the Ministry of Health’s Seniors’ Health Care Support Line or Consumer Protection BC.
  • operating issues — such as problems with residence staff, management-staff relations or services (e.g., dissatisfaction with meals) unless the allegation relates to the health or safety of a resident. These types of complaints should be resolved directly with the assisted living operator.
  • case manager’s assessments — complaints about a case manager having assessed an individual as being ineligible for publicly subsidized assisted living. Complaints about case manager assessments are referred to the appropriate regional health authority.
  • community care facilities — the ALR staff do not investigate allegations about community care facilities or whether an assisted living operator is operating an unlicensed community care facility. These complaint should be directed to the appropriate Community Care Facilities Licensing office.

Making a Complaint

Assisted living residence operators must provide residents with their internal complaint resolution process that explains how complaints are handled in the residence. First, raise your concerns through the operator’s internal complaint resolution process. If you do not get a satisfactory resolution using the operator’s internal complaint resolution process or by talking to a health authority case manager (where involved), you can make a complaint to:

  1. The assisted living registry by contacting registry staff. No one should try to prevent you from reporting concerns to registry staff. The operator must continue to provide agreed upon services as outlined in the residence occupancy agreement after a complaint is made.
    While confidentiality of a complainant will be protected, anonymity is not guaranteed. If an investigation becomes a criminal matter or results in action taken against the operator, or if the issue is taken to the Community Care and Assisted Living Appeal Board, information or documents a complainant supplies may become public information.
  2. The Patient Care Quality Office for your regional health authority – If you live in a publicly subsidized assisted living residence and feel that your concern about the quality of service delivered by the residence operator has not been addressed, you are encouraged to contact the Patient Care Quality Office for your region if you want to make a formal complaint.
    For information on how to contact the Patient Care Quality Office for your health authority, see:
    Patient Care Quality Review Boards: Make a Complaint

If you feel that your complaint has not been appropriately addressed by the assisted living registry staff, you may contact the Office of the Ombudsperson who may investigate complaints about unfair administrative decisions or actions of a public agency. For more information on the complaints process of the Office of the Ombudsperson please see: BC Ombudsperson

Complaint Investigation Process

The purpose of complaint investigation is to promote safe operating practices and to intervene in unsafe practices. Registry staff determine:

  1. whether the assisted living registry has the authority to investigate the allegation, if it does not, registry staff will redirect complaints where appropriate.
  2. the best approach for investigating the complaint. Some investigations involve a combination of approaches. For example:
    • If a complaint is relatively minor or results from a misunderstanding, registry staff will inform the operator and/or complainant about the relevant health and safety standards.
    • Registry staff can request copies of the operator’s policies, procedures or other documents to ensure the operator is meeting the standards.
    • Registry staff can conduct a site inspection if they have reason to believe that there are significant health and safety concerns at a registered residence. The purpose of a site inspection is to ensure compliance with the health and safety standards. The process is intended to be educational for the operator. Registry staff will:
      1. Make observations and collect information about whether the operator is complying with the health and safety standards.
      2. Review their observations with the site manager and highlight any areas of non-compliance.
    • The operator must resolve any identified problems within an agreed-upon time.

Approach to Resolving Complaints

A remedial approach is used when investigating and following up on complaints.

For example, investigators start with educating the complainant and the operator about the health and safety standards and reviewing the operator’s policies and practices. However, if an operator does not address health and safety issues, the Community Care and Assisted Living Act allows the assisted living registrar to add conditions to an operator’s registration, change the conditions of a registration and, in more dangerous situations, suspend or cancel a registration.

Substantiated complaint information

The Ministry of Health committed to providing online public access to substantiated complaint information related to seniors assisted living residences as of September 1, 2012. Substantiated complaints are allegations that have been investigated by assisted living registry staff and have been found to have valid health and safety concerns.

Substantiated complaint information will not:

  • Recommend specific residences;
  • Rank or rate residences against one another;
  • Issue a report card that grades residences;
  • Provide personal information about persons in care;
  • Provide specific details of a complaint; or
  • Provide information about unsubstantiated complaints.

Substantiated complaint information provides a high level summary of the complaint and the action(s) undertaken to address the complaint. The summary includes the assisted living residence name and contact information as well as the type of health and/or safety complaint reported to registry staff. The summary of the complaint and the action(s) undertaken to address the complaint will not include personal information about the complainant or other individuals.

Information provided on this website is a public service for information purposes only. This information is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a discussion with an assisted living operator or with the regional health authority. If you have questions about a substantiated complaint, please contact the assisted living residence and speak with the manager for more information.

Although every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate, discrepancies may occur between the information posted on this website and the actual complaint actions taken. The website is updated regularly as needed.

For information related to substantiated complaints about a specific seniors assisted living residence please search the name of the residence by community or by health authority.