Complaints about Community & Residential Care

Filing a Complaint about Residential Care

On this page we set out how older adults or their loved ones or friends can make complaints about residential care received either through community care, or within a care facility or hospital.

Health Care Complaints (PCQOs – HA’s)
Complaints regarding health care and care facilities, after the initial complaint letter, are dealt with either by the Patient Care Quality Office in that Health Authority region, or by the Licensing Office for licensed care facilities . See list of Health Authorities below, or follow this link to find the Patient Care Quality Office in a particular health authority region:

PHSA – Find a Patient Care Quality Office

Follow this link to find the Licensing Office for care facilities in your health authority region: Find a Licensing Office

NOTE – if not sure which office to use, the Patient Care Quality Office will take the complaint and direct it to the Licensing Officer if need be.

Care Homes

NOTE – Before contacting the Healthy Authority or Patient Care Quality Office talk to other residents, families and staff to see if anyone else is experiencing the same type of problems. A complaint with several contributors and examples will be given more weight than one with a single complainant about a single incident. If the facility has a Family Council you can discuss your complaint with them. There is safety and strength in numbers!

Complaint Process:

  1. Start with letter of complaint to Exec. Dir. or Care Manager of Care Home (**keep a copy**); then,
  2. Patient Care Quality office or Licensing Office of local health authority (see previous column for list of HA’s); then,
  3. Patient Care Quality Review Board.

Content of Complaint

Each health authority has a slightly different approach for collecting information, but all complaint takers will require:

  1. The name and location of the facility;
  2. Complainant’s full name (they can request anonymity);
  3. The name and birth date for the patient who received care;
  4. The date(s) that the care was provided;
  5. Contact information for the complainant and/or the patient;
  6. Relevant information regarding any ‘Representation Agreement’ or ‘Temporary Substitute Decision-Maker’ designations; and,
  7. What steps have already been taken to address the issue.

NOTE – information and documentation should include the who? what? where? when? and how? about the incident. Remember that details are critical in making a complaint and that precise documentation will ensure a more thorough response.

Optional Responses

The options open to a Licensing Officer include:

  1. Holding discussions with the licensee or manager to address the concern;
  2. Suspending a license or attaching conditions to it;
  3. Imposing a fine; or if all else fails
  4. Cancelling the license and closing the facility.

Unresolved Complaints – PCQRB

If not satisfied with how a complaint was handled or with the outcome of an investigation, a complainant may decide to go the Patient Care Quality Review Board in their region.

NOTE – no matter which complaint system they used, Licensing Office or Patient Care Quality Office, you can ask the Patient Care Quality Review Board to review your complaint.

You should be sure to refer to any legislation that supports your case. For instance, if you are complaining that staffing is inadequate, then refer to section 42 of the Residential Care Regulation and show how staffing levels affects the problem.

There are six Boards, one for each Health Region Authority and one for the Provincial Health Services Authority. The Boards are independent of the Health Authorities and the members are accountable to the provincial Minister of Health Services.

  • How to Request a Review
  • PCQRB Review Form

Assisted Living

Assisted living registry (ALR) staff investigate complaints related to the health and safety of persons living in assisted living residences.

Who Can Complain?

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.

Internal Complaints Process

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 formal complaint either to ALR (health and safety or PCQO (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).

How to Make a Formal Complaint

Assisted Living Complaints

Investigated Complaints
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.

Complaints NOT Investigated

  • 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. There can also be an informal referral to the Residential Tenancy Branch according to the Minister.
  • 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.

Unresolved Complaints
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.
Substantiated Complaints

The ALR keeps a record of assisted living facilities with substantiated complaints. For information related to substantiated complaints about a specific seniors assisted living residence search for the name of the residence by community or by health authority.