An assisted living facility that caters to Alzheimer's patients was fined recently for failing to report the abuse of one of its aides to state social services. The fine was the result of an investigation of multiple complaints against the aide. The investigation started when a patient's finger was injured while under the aide's care. During the investigation of that injury, staff at the facility disclosed other instances during which the aide physically and verbally abused other patients. The aide was also reported to have been intoxicated while at work. Read more about the fines.
In response to revelations about the aide's abuse, a representative of the assisted living facility's ownership stated: "As soon as the situation that violated [the facility's] code of conduct was brought to management attention, management took all necessary steps to aggressively address the matter including immediately terminating any employee involved." Wait a minute! The aide's abuse probably didn't start the moment she was hired to work at the assisted living facility. The facility probably made a bad decision to hire the aide and a worse decision to keep her. Those decisions were probably based on the combined effects of a sloppy background investigation and a failure by the facility to recognize danger signs during her employment.
The facility can hardly wear the white hat here by claiming it took prompt action to fire the aide because the facility was fined for hiding her abuse! Nursing homes and assisted living facilities need to do a better job screening their applicants before they're hired and a better job supervising their staff once they're hired. This whole mess also highlights the problem of relying on nursing homes and assisted living facilities to self-report their own neglect and abuse. When these facilities are placed in charge of reporting themselves to local and state agencies and authorities, facts changes and some reports are never made. The result? The nursing home neglect and abuse we know about may pale in comparison to the neglect and abuse we don't.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.
Posted on Fri, February 15, 2008
by Robert Carter