With alarming statistics of neglect and abuse mixed with dangerous staffing rates, the state of long term care settings in The United States is a concern that affects everyone.
In 2019, The Atlanta Journal Constitution did a study on the quality of senior care in nursing homes in the state of Georgia. Calling the results appalling would be a gross understatement. According to this study, in the year 2019 there were 600 cases of neglect and 90 cases of abuse investigated in Georgia alone.
WIth these alarming statistics, it is no surprise that Georgia ranks in the top ten states for the most nursing home violations. Violations can be attributed to many causes, but most commonly it is attributed to lack of staffing, lack of training, and mismanagement of funding.
Abuse and neglect citations are completely preventable. Through partnerships with healthcare training schools, the state of emergency in long term care settings can be fixed. But we need your help.
The Merriman, a nursing home and assisted living facility in Akron, Ohio experienced the death of a resident after a resident with dementia wandered outside in frigid temperatures. Joan Meredith, 82 was found deceased in a wooded area behind the assisted living facility. Records indicate her cause of death was hypothermia.
Tuesday morning on November 8, 2022 Tom Freiheit and his wife Renae received a phone call from The Merriman inquiring about when he was going to bring his mother, Joan, back to the assisted living facility. Confusion and panic instantly set in because his mother had not been on a visit to their home, or anywhere. Tom and Renae rushed to the assisted living facility to get answers. Upon arrival “the lady at the front desk”, as described by the couple stated “We found your mom”. With relief, they asked to see her.
The woman at the front desk never answered their question. He described seeing emergency personnel arriving at the assisted living, when a firefighter told him that his mother was found dead behind the building, and had “been there for a while”.
Tom and his wife were told by an employee that Meredith had not been in her room Sunday evening at 5pm to receive her medication. An employee also told the Freiheits’ that Meredith had been marked in the system as on a leave of absence from the facility, although this had not been done by family members.
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa a residential care facility was cited for financial exploitation as well as untrained workers. Iowa State Inspectors were investigating an allegation of abuse at Heritage Specialty Care where a resident took $1,625 from a resident at the facility. The worker then antagonized the resident through text messages causing him names such as a “vegetable” and “veggie boy”.
The nursing home has also been cited for failing to provide its training nursing assistants, or TNA’s with either the state-approved training or the required competency evaluations. TNA’s at the facility confirmed that they’d been working on the unit before finishing the required competency training, and that it was common practice at the facility to offer only 4-5 days of training before being told to work the floor on their own due to staffing shortages.
Other citations include unsanitary practices, insufficient staffing, and inadequate infection control. Earlier in 2020 the nursing home paid a fine related to financial exploitation of a resident when an employee sold her phone to a resident, then failed to give the resident the phone. A few weeks later, the same employee texted the resident, “Can you do $200 and I’ll pay you back when I start working more hours again?”. The resident then sent the employee money through a phone application.
Skilled Nursing Facilities
In March of 2022, an Atlanta Nurse was sentenced to eight years in Prison and a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) was sentenced to five months probation for neglect that led to the death of 89 year old James Dempsey. Loyce Agyeman pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, neglect to an elder person and concealing a death. The CNA, Mable Turman, pleaded guilty to concealing the death of another and neglect of an elder person and depriving an elder person of essential services.
After admitting himself in the skilled nursing facility, the Dempsey family installed a hidden camera in the Veterans’ room. On recordings from the camera, you can hear Dempsey asking for help related to his heart and having trouble breathing. Without assessing him, the nurse, Agyeman, can be heard telling Dempsey to “Stop pressing his call button”.
Shortly thereafter, Dempsey was found unresponsive by his nurse, Agyeman, who verified that he wanted all life saving measures to be taken in the event he needed resuscitation. Despite taking this step to verify his code status, she did not try to save his life. Another nurse from the facility, Wanda Nuckles is charged with depriving an elder person of essential services and concealing the death of another after failing to provide CPR to Dempsey.
Abuse and neglect are always preventable. Always be aware of what you can do to eradicate abuse and neglect in long term care facilities. Care facilities are in need of skilled and educated allied health professionals.
One solution is to transition to a Patient Care Technician model. By adding patient care tech education, and patient care techs to your care model, you are adding an extra layer of skilled professionals to your team. They are trained to recognize and act in emergency situations, and can be the difference between life and death.
Providing CNA education that is transparent in how to provide patient centered care, supports the residents bill of rights, and are trained in their role in emergency situations. Well trained students are bound to be highly skilled employees.
Knowing the state requirements can be instrumental in preventing abuse and neglect. Every state lays out a “law of the land” to care for the aging population.
To file a complaint against a facility in Georgia, CLICK HERE
Learn more about H.E.R.O Institute’s accredited healthcare programs, CLICK HERE
This article was written by Leslie Lawrence LPN, an Instructor for the phlebotomy technician program at H.E.R.O Institute located in Marietta, GA.