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NASGA is a public interest civil rights organization founded by several victims and for victims of unlawful and abusive guardianship and conservatorship cases. Please visit our website at www.StopGuardianAbuse.org for more information on how you can help stop guardian abuse.

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    The images are hard to watch -- vulnerable, elderly residents of Texas nursing homes beaten and abused by their caretakers.

    The abysmal care is more than anecdotal. Using data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, WFAA discovered the patient abuse rate in Texas nursing homes is nearly four times the national average.

    But there’s a heartbreaking story behind these numbers.

    News 8 investigator Charlotte Huffman spent months analyzing state data, and made a disturbing discovery: violent criminals are working as certified nursing aides (CNAs), and in many cases, it’s legal.



    Chapter 1

    Two cases of assault and abuse


    “I don’t understand it,” said Liz Harris, recalling what happened to her sister, Mary, at The Rehabilitation & Wellness Centre of Dallas on Live Oak Street in Dallas.

    “I want people to know,” Harris said. “It can happen to anybody. And you be careful about where you put your loved ones.”

    These days, Mary is in a brighter place, a new nursing home, but she still remembers that night two years ago.

    “He took advantage of me, no doubt about it,” she said. “At first I asked him, 'What are you doing?' 'Well, Ms. Harris, I'm going to get you ready for a bath.' I thought that was the truth.”

    Instead, she said, her CNA sexually assaulted her.

    After the incident, Mary was taken to Parkland Hospital. She tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease. At the time, she was 66.

    In a civil suit filed by her family against the nursing home, doctors say that “it is undeniable that Ms. Harris was infected while she was under care at the facility." If that’s proven to be true, court documents show, then the nursing home says “nurse assistant Rodney Jolly Shead is responsible.”

    WFAA contacted Shead, who was never charged with a crime in connection with the incident. He denied an on-camera interview request, and any wrongdoing. But, the 32-year-old admits that the nursing home let him go after the allegations surfaced

    Chandler McCaughan also trusted a nursing home to protect his mother.

    At the Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Duval near Austin, CNA Carlos Santacruz was caring for McCaughan's mother, or so he thought.

    “Instead he's taking pictures of her you know wiping feces on her face,” he said.

    Santacruz was fired and charged with injury to the elderly after he posted pictures on social media in which he tickled the sleeping 83-year-old’s face, prompting her to smear feces on herself. He recently pleaded to assault against elderly, records show. Despite WFAA attempts to reach him via email and social media, Santacruz couldn't be reached for comment.

    “I was horrified, absolutely furious. This is my mother,” McCaughan said. “She's someone's sister, someone's aunt.”

    Both these victims have one thing in common: Both nurse aides had a previous prior criminal record. Santacruz was previously arrested for fraud and drug possession. Shead confessed to two counts of assault causing bodily injury. The nursing homes hired them anyway.

    “That right there just blew my mind,” Liz Harris said. “For them to even allow that … why would they do that?”

    Because in Texas, they can.

    Full Article & Source:
    Criminal Caretakers: Lax regulations put violent offenders at nursing home residents’ bedsides

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    Part 2A six-month WFAA investigation found nearly 200 aides certified to work in North Texas nursing homes have serious or violent criminal histories.

    Maybe most troubling, WFAA found that many certified nurse aides (CNAs) with criminal histories work in nursing homes legally.

    But WFAA also found other CNAs who have been convicted of crimes that should make them ineligible to work, yet slipped through the regulatory cracks -- and continue to remain state certified and employable.

    The WFAA review found CNAs with arrests for crimes that include the following: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; continuous violence against family; injury to a child; abandoning a child; aggravated robbery; aggravated sexual contact with a child; and burglary.

    The WFAA analysis also, in a review of federal complaints, found Texas nursing homes with an abuse rate four times the national average.


    For advocates of the elderly, it’s disturbing.

    “It's not okay,” said Cortney Nicolato, chief executive officer of the Senior Source, a Dallas nonprofit that conducted nearly 5,000 nursing home visits last year to ensure residents were free from signs of abuse. “Organizations like ours bust our chops every day to make sure that older adults are being protected. We need the entire community doing the same.”

    So, why is that not happening on behalf of the state’s 92,000 nursing home patients?

    Because there are three major oversight flaws, according to the WFAA findings.

    Loophole 1: Inadequate initial background checks

    The first involves the initial certification.

    The state requires DPS to conduct a criminal background check prior to an applicant being certified. That’s different from Texas requirements in other industries, for example, like child daycare in which a national background check using fingerprints is required.

    The WFAA review found the DPS checks apparently fail to uncover various state convictions. That’s resulted in nurse aide applicants getting certified, though they should be barred for life.

    Like Tiffany Simons, Daniel Badger and Johnny Lacy.

    All three were convicted of crimes that should have prohibited them life from becoming CNAs.

    Yet, they went to prison, got out, and then became certified.

    None would talk to us on camera.

    Loophole 2: No background check on re-certification

    A second flaw appears in the re-certification process. The state requires a nurse aide to get re-certified every two years, yet does not require regulators to re-check a CNA’s criminal background.

    Instead, any further background checks fall to the nursing homes.

    WFAA found individuals who commit crimes that should bar them from work – and have their certification pulled - yet remain certified and employable.

    CNAs like Corwin Harrison, for example, gained his certification from the state in 2003. But after initially being certified, he was later convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for attacking his girlfriend with a large kitchen knife and trying to choke her, according to court and prison records.

    The conviction for the crime should have barred Harrison - like other CNAs we found – for life from working as a CNA.

    Although Harrison spent a year-and- a-half in prison, in 2012 and 2013, he got out and worked as a nurse aide from 2014 to 2016, state employment records. He even renewed his certificate in 2016.

    Harrison backed out of an interview request, but told us he continues to work as a nurse aide – though in private care. He acknowledged having a criminal past – though did not discuss his specific crimes. He said any prior criminal past does not necessarily affect one’s work.

    Loophole 3: Deferred adjudication probation

    The third and most common loophole WFAA found is buried in the state's regulations. It says if you commit a serious or violent crime, you are eligible to become a CNA as long as you don’t have a “final conviction.”

    That means a nurse aide can commit a serious or violent crime, gain deferred adjudication, and successfully fulfill the terms of their probation, to avoid a “final conviction.” The individual, though often pleading guilty to a serious or violent crime to gain probation, remains eligible to be a CNA.

    We found dozens of nurse aides who pleaded guilty to violent crimes. But since they got probation, the law allows them to go back to work.

    Tambra Wright is one of them. She pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for trying to run someone over with her car.

    “I don’t have any convictions of any felonies,” she told WFAA as she was about to clock in at her job at a local nursing home this month.

    That’s true. She got deferred adjudication and granted eight years of probation.

    In all, we found nearly 200 nurse aides whose records on the state’s nurse aide registry are clean, but who have criminal histories for violent or serious offenses.

    Many are, right now, working at the bedsides of vulnerable Texas nursing home residents.

    “They have dementia, Alzheimer's, symptoms that cause them to have a lack of communication,” said Ernest Tosh, an attorney who handles nursing home abuse cases across the United States.

    “They can't express exactly what happened, which is why violent offenders should be screened out from working in these facilities,” Tosh said. “They can physically or sexually assault an individual and there be no repercussions because that individual can't identify them or communicate what happened.”

    But others says there’s a reason nursing homes hire criminals. Susan Hodges would know. She’s a former nursing home administrator.

    “It's very demanding and very tough,” Hodges said. “I've seen the aides get hit in the stomach. I've seen them get bit … I've seen them take a lot of punishment. A lot more than you realize.”

    At minimum wage, barely above $7 an hour, a nurse aide is often left to clean, bathe and feed as many as 30 residents at a time. That’s compounded by Texas’ lack of minimum staffing level requirements.

    A nurse aide could flip burgers and make more money, Hodges said. This all adds up to a job few are willing to do, and an industry that sets the bar low in order to keep facilities staffed and profitable, experts like Hodges told WFAA.

    WFAA asked Hodges what would happen if the state cracked down and actually barred criminals from working in nursing homes.

    “It would be a huge hit because they would have to go to find another pool of employees,” Hodges said. “I would say at least a fourth of their staff would be gone.”

    But others disagree.

    “I think our state needs to recognize that nursing homes are not as poor as they claim to be,” said J.T. Borah, an Austin attorney show specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect. “If the industry were to finance and staff at the level they were supposed to, they could afford better employees. They could have better applicants.”

    Families of nursing home victims agreed with Borah. Liz Harris has alleged her sister was sexually assaulted in a nursing home by a man with past arrests.

    “That’s not right,” Harris said. “I'm really appalled at that right now. And the more I think about it, I'm angry. … What if it were their family members?”

    “You guys (nursing homes) should know better,” Liz Harris added. “You're in the business of taking care of people and that's what you really should be doing.”

    WFAA asked the Texas Department of Health and Human Services for an on-camera interview so that we could show them the list of criminal nurse aides we’ve uncovered. They declined that opportunity but expressed an interest in reviewing the names WFAA found.

    In 2018, lawmakers will take on nursing home reform as one of the Texas legislature’s interim charges to improve the quality of care for nursing home and assisted living facility residents. The Senior Source has issued their recommendations, which include “requiring annual background checks, at a minimum, for ANYONE working in long-term care facilities.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Criminal Caretakers: Hundreds of certified aides with criminal histories working in nursing homes

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    Part 3

    DALLAS -- A state lawmaker is calling for tighter controls on nursing home aides after a News 8 investigation revealed that the state has certified hundreds of them with serious criminal histories.

    State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, who sits on the Texas Legislature's Public Health Committee, said he wants a thorough FBI background check done before nurse aides are certified.

    “If we do the FBI background investigation,” Rep. Zedler told News 8, “Health and Human Services, which handles the certification for nurse aides, would get a monthly print out – ‘Here are the people that violated the law.’”

    A News 8 investigation revealed that state health officials are only required to do a less-thorough state background check when initially certifying aides, and no new checks for re-certification.

    “Y'all perform a very important service because a lot of times, you don't know you have a problem until somebody brings it to your attention,” Rep. Zedler said.

    A WFAA analysis of government data showed that abuse in Texas nursing homes is nearly four times the national average, and a broken system is largely to blame. Our six-month long investigation uncovered how violent criminals are often left to care for some of our most vulnerable.

    After our stories aired last month, Emily Bailey said they sounded all too familiar to her.

    “I hate how the elderly are treated,” said Bailey, a certified nurse aide. “I hate how the workers are treated.

    “I would never put my own grandmother in a nursing home because of the stuff I've seen,” she said.

    “Nobody ever really talks about, from an aides point of view, what's really going on in most of these facilities.”

    She said not only are nurse aides with a history of abuse often left to care for the elderly, but bad behavior often is ignored.

    “You knew they were doing drugs,” she said. “You knew that they were drinking. But sometimes these facilities just swept it under the rug because they came, not sober, but were still able to do their job.”

    Our investigation found that nurse aides like James Pruitt are flying under the state’s radar. On the state’s nurse aide registry, his certificate is clean, meaning he’s eligible to work in a nursing home.

    But by state law, he shouldn’t be.

    Court records show Pruitt was convicted of assault last year after he choked and pushed his girlfriend down a stairwell.

    But state regulators don't know that, because no one is doing routine background checks.

    Right now in Texas, nurse aide applicants get a one-time background check through the Texas Department of Public Safety as part of the initial certification process. Zedler said an FBI background check would not only be more thorough, but it would catch nurse aides like Pruitt who rack up convictions long after they're first certified.

    Former nursing home administrator Susan Hodges said nursing homes would have a hard time hiring people if controls are tightened.

    She said she’s not opposed to stricter controls, but notes that the state set the bar low for a reason.

    “I do not believe that you can have an employee pool to pull from except that group of people that, for some reason …. can't get a better job,” Hodges said. “So that's the type of people you're really going to get in this type of situation.”

    That’s because the job is tough and dirty, Bailey said.

    “We're overworked,” she said. “We are stressed out mentally.”

    “You're basically a certified butt cleaner,” she added. “You clean up poop, you clean up pee day in and day out.”

    And the pay?

    “I'm sorry, but it's crap -- between $8.50 up to $10 dollars an hour,” she said. “I would rather work at McDonald’s instead of work as a CNA ever again.”

    It all adds up to a job few qualified workers are willing to do, and an industry that hires criminals in order to keep their businesses running.

    “The state may have to end up putting more money into the program,” Zedler said.

    Zedler said that if he can’t get reform of the nurse aide program done through regulatory changes, he told News 8 he will file new legislation next session. 

    Full Article & Source:
    News 8 investigation prompts lawmaker to seek tighter controls on criminal caretakers

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    Part 4

    DALLAS -- An ongoing WFAA investigation into Texas nursing homes has already revealed questionable practices in the hiring of criminal caregivers - and now WFAA has uncovered inappropriate and unnecessary drugging of residents.

    In our latest report, called “Drugged and Dying,” News 8 investigative reporter Charlotte Huffman found that 96 percent of Texas nursing homes admit they’re giving drugs to residents who don’t need them.

    According to the FDA, unnecessary use of antipsychotic medication kills 15,000 nursing home patients every year. Of all the drugs used as chemical restraints, antipsychotics are the most widespread and may be the most dangerous.

    The federal government has previously caught drug manufacturers improperly promoting their antipsychotic drugs for use in nursing homes. (See here and here.)

    As a result, nursing homes pledged to reduce the improper use of these drugs on their residents.

    But our reporting shows that many facilities may have found a way to give the drugs to residents anyway.

    Before nursing homes can give residents antipsychotics, new federal guidelines require doctors to diagnose them with at least one of three mental illnesses, the most common being schizophrenia.

    A WFAA analysis of nursing home data shows that, after this new rule, the number of residents diagnosed with schizophrenia has skyrocketed 26 percent.

    Typically, schizophrenia develops in a patient’s early 20s, not later in life, experts say.

    Various healthcare officials and advocates, when reached for comment, have found WFAA's findings troubling.

    “There's no doubt that it raises a big red flag,” said Amanda Fredriksen, AARP Texas director of advocacy and outreach. “It’s pretty disturbing when people are that motivated to drive their numbers down to falsify medical records or to make up diagnoses. But to the extent that that's happening, that's a real serious issue.”

    Others such as Dr. Daniel Pearson, head of psychiatry at Methodist Hospital, questions a first-time schizophrenia diagnosis of an elderly nursing home resident. He said such a diagnosis, especially to sedate, may be inappropriate, and possibly dangerous.

    “Does that surprise me? No. Are those diagnoses legitimate? Probably not,” Dr. Daniel Pearson told WFAA.

    “If you are using it just to keep people quiet, there are significant risks that are associated with that…increased risk of cardiac death, increased risk of falling, breaking a hip,” added Dr. Pearson, who spent a decade as a psychiatrist in nursing homes.

    The practice of drugging patients may be due to low staffing levels, experts told WFAA. Texas, unlike most other states, lacks minimum nursing home staffing requirements.

    “About 70 percent of a nursing home’s expenses are staffing,” said attorney Ernest Tosh, who handles nursing home lawsuits. “So, if they can cut back on staffing, they can directly increase their profitability.”

    In effort to cut costs, troubled nursing homes may drug the elderly rather than hire needed staff. The practice has been dubbed “chemical restraints.” It’s a practice of using powerful drugs to sedate or quell agitated, disruptive or violent patients.

    But if used unnecessarily and inappropriately, advocates say the medications – particularly antipsychotics -- are another form of abuse, and may be potentially fatal to residents.

    The WFAA investigation found one Dallas-area nursing home that medicated residents to sedate. Staff at the nursing home had a term for its practice.

    “They said: ‘Take this lady to China,’” a nursing home worker told WFAA.

    What does that mean?

    “It just can be any medication that will put a person to sleep,” the worker said.

    The worker told WFAA what happened next with this particular patient.

    “They took that lady to China, and she went to the hospital,” the worker said. “The lady never did come back from the hospital.”

    Our informant works directly with nursing home residents. She says she’s seen the drugging firsthand. She says she fears retaliation, so we are not revealing her identity.

    WFAA also found other examples of patients who were medicated without their knowledge. That’s despite an “informed consent” law in Texas that requires caregivers to explain what they give to patients, and explain a drug’s possible side-effects.

    One patient, Mae Vahl, had drugs crushed and hidden in her foods and drink. Her nursing home stay highlights concerns that nursing homes may go to extreme and questionable measures to hide the drugging of residents.

    Mae, 68, was placed in the facilities because she was too weak to get herself out of bed. And she needed diapers, and someone to clean her regularly.

    She began complaining about the care at one nursing home, and soon “blue and white pills” began showing up.

    Later, she was admitted to another nursing facility, and diagnosed for the first time with schizophrenia. The staff tried to give her antipsychotics but she refused.

    “Would you want to be drugged and knocked out?” Vahl told WFAA. “Would you want your mind destroyed? I don’t.”

    Jerry Tindel knows the dangers of using antipsychotics without a correct corresponding medical diagnosis. He says his mother-in-law was in good physical and mental health when she went to live in an Austin nursing home.

    Staff gave her Risperdal, even though she did not have a mental illness that required an antipsychotic.

    “It changed her drastically. She wasn’t the same person,” Tindel told WFAA. “She was pretty much out of it … It really immobilized her. She couldn't walk without someone holding her because she had lost her coordination. (Risperdal) shouldn’t have been given to her.”

    One night, Tindel’s mother-in-law tried getting out of bed to use the restroom and in a drugged-out state. She fell and broke her hip.

    “That was the beginning of the end,” Tindel said. His mother-in-law died two weeks later.

    Email investigates@wfaa.com

    More information


    Last year, the state of Texas warned nursing home administrators about inappropriately drugging residents.

    That same watchdog created this brochure to inform nursing home residents about the dangers of them being inappropriately drugged.

    Here is a link to federal government regulations dealing with medication administration and monitoring - see p. 505.

    Watch a 2011 U.S. Senate hearing on antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes. 

    Full Article & Source:
    Drugged and Dying: Some nursing homes are overmedicating residents rather than paying caretakers

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    George DeMetro & Dina Marie Miller
    A Florida couple who burglarized more than $20,000 worth of goods from an elderly homeowner are now facing several charges.

    Authorities say the two went to a home on Woodland Drive in January 2017 where the woman identified as Dina Miller, 48, told the 76-year-old homeowner she was from the Columbia Power Company, and pointed to her shirt with the Columbia Sportswear logo on the front, according to Sgt. Beatrice Bugg with the Newnan Police Department. Miller allegedly told the homeowner she needed to discuss moving a power pole on her property.

    While they were outside, a man identified as George DeMetro, 42, went inside the home and and stole more than $20,000 worth of goods from the house including coats, jewelry and silverware, according to Bugg.

    Several months after the burglary, the victim overheard reports of a similar incident occurring in Cobb County. During the incident, the male reportedly dropped his wallet and police were able to identify him.

    On March 1, Demeanor and Miller were arrested in Coweta County on charges of burglary and elderly exploitation. They were later released on a $55,200 bond.

    The two have an extensive history of similar incidents, including a 2011 incident outside Boston where police reportedly found $60,000 cash, jewelry, rare coins and other items believed to have been stolen from homes across the country.

    Full Article & Source:
    Florida couple charged with burglary, elderly exploitation

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    Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

    MADISONVILLE, KY (WFIE) - A Madisonville man is accused of sexually abusing an elderly woman.

    According to police, they began investigating on Sunday after they got a complaint about sexual abuse in the 400 block of N. Seminary St. Police say their investigation led them to arrest 27-year-old Eric Barnett.

    "An employee happened to be doing their rounds and then they entered one of the rooms and then they saw what they thought was inappropriate contact with one of the individuals, one of the residents there," Lt. Andy Rush with the Madisonville Police Department said. "And so they confronted the person about it, that person went ahead and left the facility. And at that point they felt it necessary to not only contact the police department but also contact their administrators.

    Police say Barnett is an employee of NHC HealthCare, a rehabilitation center in Madisonville. We've reached out to the center for comment, but haven't heard back.

    Barnett is being held in the Hopkins County Jail without bond.

    Full Article & Source:
    Man accused of sexually abusing elderly woman

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    Commissioners Chairman Christian Y. Leinbach
    By Nicole C. Brambila

    Reading, PA —The Berks County commissioners this week defended the work of the Berks County Area Agency on Aging following a three-day series in the Reading Eagle that examined deficiencies in the system of appointing guardians who oversee incapacitated people.

    Begun 15 months ago, the special report reviewed court dockets in three counties, including Berks.

    Commissioners Chairman Christian Y. Leinbach took aim at one of the report's significant findings: Berks Aging favors the appointment of professionals who charge for services over family members.

    In 92 percent of the 2016 cases reviewed in which the agency petitioned the court, a professional guardian was recommended and appointed. The dockets in 53 percent of these cases identified family living in Pennsylvania.

    "Third-party guardians are only called upon to assist (many times on essentially a pro bono basis) where the incapacitated person either does not have family that is willing or able to serve or an investigation has revealed that the family member poses a risk to the older adult," Leinbach, who is in Washington, D.C., for a legislative conference, said in an email to the newspaper.

    Leinbach added, "Even where a guardian is recommended, Aging and the guardian works with families to the fullest extent possible."

    He also touted the low prevalence of guardianship petitions, in proportion to the number of abuse reports the agency receives: 33 filings in fiscal year 2016-2017 out of the 242 substantiated reports, or 13 percent.

    Roughly one in four complaints investigated by Berks Aging in the 2016-2017 fiscal year were substantiated. During that same time, Leinbach said, Berks Aging filed petitions for guardianship 33 times, or in 13.6 percent of the cases.

    "The statistics show that Aging only turns to guardianship in very rare circumstances and only as a last resort," Leinbach said.

    Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt agreed, saying of the decision to file for guardianship, "I don't think they take it lightly."

    Guardianship is the legal process of removing the civil rights from an adult who is ruled incapacitated and appointing a person or agency to make decisions about the individual's health care, living arrangements, money and more.

    While guardianship has always raised civil liberty issues, it's now a growing concern with an aging population and the expected wave of patients with dementia, the most common justification for a guardianship.

    While those with oversight of Berks Aging downplayed the newspaper's findings, the investigation resonated with readers.

    The Eagle fielded nearly 20 responses by email and telephone in addition to a dozen comments posted below the story online.

    Dave Baseley summed up much of the feedback with his online comment: "This is excellent journalism! Well done, and kudos to everyone who contributed to this series."

    Others, such as Cindy Hamm in Sinking Spring, said she was concerned about family rights, particularly when a power of attorney is invoked.

    "My wishes are known, and I would like them carried out," said Hamm, noting the breadth of power that comes with a guardianship appointment to strangers.

    The newspaper review of 2016 dockets found four cases in which the incapacitated adult had a power of attorney and was appointed a guardian.

    Ed Michalik, Berks Aging executive director, and Commissioner Mark C. Scott did not respond to Reading Eagle inquiries seeking comment.

    Berks President Judge Thomas G. Parisi, said, before the series ran, that he was unaware of the prevalence of professional guardian appointments.

    Full Article & Source:
    Commissioners defend Berks Area Agency on Aging on guardianship

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    5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST…

    Foundation Aiding the Elderly (FATE) is a Sacramento, California based 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation whose objective is to serve as a voice for patients and to bring about national reforms and enforcement of the laws governing the nursing home industry and its regulatory agencies in order to assure proper care, civil rights and meaningful, dignified life for the elderly in long-term care facilities.

    FATE’s Mission is to assure our elders are treated with care, dignity and the utmost respect during their final years when they can no longer take care of themselves.

    Florida Senate Bills for Nursing Home Improvements that have DIED in the Senate! Who Would Be AGAINST Improving Quality of Care & Rights of the Elderly in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities? This is a DISGRACE To The HUMAN Race! The Elderly are getting KICKED to the CURB once AGAIN! Totally UNJUST & INHUMANE… Bring back the Dignity and Respect for the Elderly where it belongs! OUR AGES DON’T STOP HERE! The CLOCK Keeps TICKING! All the Elderly were once our ages. NOT A PRETTY PICTURE OUT THERE! What are we going to do about it? Who’s going to STAND UP and SPEAK OUT for all of us when we become the Elderly if God is Willing? Doesn’t look promising. These changes are for now and everyone’s futures.. We never know what the future brings.. or do we?

    Nursing Home Understaffing http://www.nursinghomeabuseguide.org/neglect/understaffing
    One underlying cause of elder abuse and neglect that affects nursing homes all across the country is the issue of understaffing. When nursing facilities do not have enough staff to give each patient adequate attention, it leads to mistakes and neglect. At the same time, when staff is extremely overworked and stressed, there is a greater risk that they will commit abusive acts out of frustration.

    Understaffing is a serious issue that has plagued nursing homes for decades, and more than 90% of nursing homes are currently understaffed. Studies have proven that residents who live in understaffed nursing homes are at a greater risk of malnutrition, weight loss, bedsores, dehydration, infections, and pneumonia. Families of elderly patients are increasingly noticing this problem and are starting to hold nursing homes responsible for the abuses that occur as a result.

    LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

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    There should be a special place in Hades for the criminals who commit financial fraud against seniors.

    No one deserves to be a victim of a scam, but it’s particular heinous when perpetrated on people who are living on fixed incomes or surviving on savings they can’t replenish.

    Many of the financial crimes against seniors go unreported because the victim are too embarrassed to tell anyone or report the fraud to the authorities.

    So I was thrilled recently to see that federal and state law enforcement officials joined forces to round up more than 250 people accused of financial schemes that targeted seniors.

    Some examples of the elder financial exploitation prosecuted by the department included:

    — Lottery phone scams. Callers convince seniors that they have to pay a fee or taxes before receiving the lottery proceeds.

    — Guardianship scams. Family, friend or recent acquaintances will siphon seniors’ money into their own bank accounts.

    — IRS impostor scams. Con artists call and pretend to be an IRS agent claiming that victims owe back taxes.

    — Grandparent scams. Seniors are tricked into believing that a grandchild has been arrested and needs bail money.
     — Romance scam. In this loathsome scheme, victims are persuaded to send money to someone they’ve met online.

    More than two-thirds of caretakers reported that a scammer had targeted their elderly relatives, according to a survey of more than 1,700 people conducted by the Cooperative Credit Union Association, a New England-based trade group.

    The survey found that, most often, the attempted fraud was initiated with a telephone call. Nearly 22 percent of scam attempts were made via email or another online contact.

    “While regulators are working hard to address the scourge of financial fraud, education is key, particularly with hundreds of millions of Americans’ personal information readily available to criminals,” said Paul Gentile, president and chief executive of the association. “All financial consumers need to take steps to protect themselves financially and digitally, including by being aware of the latest trends in frauds and scams.”

    A quarter of the caregivers surveyed said that they had not even discussed financial abuse with their elder relative or friend.

    Want more information on how to stamp out elder financial abuse? Read the following.

    — With every data breach comes an increased need for fraud sentinels for seniors.
    Equifax breach may mean scammers can target more seniors


    “A 2017 AARP study states that over half of all U.S. financial fraud victims are over the age of 70, and that 90 percent of investment fraud victims were more than 50 years old. A separate study from the North American Securities Administrators Association notes that 97 percent of fraud prevention specialists say that “most cases” of senior financial fraud go undetected rather than being discovered before they cause serious problems.”

    — From Consumer Reports: New Ways to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse
    — From the Chicago Tribune: How to spot elder financial abuse

    Please help detect and deter elder financial abuse.

    Full Article & Source:
    The scammers who bilked seniors out of more than half a billion dollars

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    Paige Johanningmeier and Megan Penney
    Two licensed nursing assistants are accused of having sexual relations with patients from an Iowa psychiatric facility.

    An investigation began when the Prairie View Management Facility in Fayette reported two patients had absconded Feb. 21.

    Four days later, deputies with the Fayette Sheriff’s Office learned the missing patients were seen with two nursing assistants from the facility, the Des Moines Register reported.

    Authorities soon determined Megan Penney, 26, of Clermont and Paige Johanningmeier, 23, of Elgin, “had developed a relationship with the two patients and once they had left the facility it became sexual,” the sheriff’s office said.

    The patients were at Prairie View under court order due to mental illness, the Register reported.

    Penney and Johnningmeier were arrested Tuesday on a felony sex exploitation charge related to their position as counselors.

    Each woman posted $2,000 bond and were released on the day they were booked.

    Deputies took one of the patients back to Prairie View; they took the other to a hospital.

    A woman who answered the phone at Prairie View told Fox News Friday that staff cooperated with investigators. She said the facility had no further comment and she declined to identify herself.

    Full Article & Source:
    Iowa nursing assistants, ages 23 and 26, accused of sex with psychiatric facility patients

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    Dozens of conservatorship beds will be added starting this month to the dozens already available in San Francisco to help the seriously mentally ill, the mayor and the city's health director announced Monday.

    Starting March 12, 54 new locked psychiatric beds will be available at what's being called the San Francisco Healing Center at St. Mary's Medical Center, in addition to the 47 already available at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

    The beds will be used to help the seriously mentally ill who are placed in conservatorship and are too ill to live on their own but do not require acute hospital care.

    The patients who would be helped are gravely disabled because of a mental illness or they are incompetent to stand trial.

    "The mental health problems on our streets are one of the biggest issues facing San Francisco," Mayor Mark Farrell said in a statement.

    Farrell said by more than doubling the number of beds, city officials will provide "real results" for the people who are ill, as well as local residents and businesses.

    Currently, patients have to wait for placement in out-of-county facilities, acute care hospitals or jails.

    City officials said placing patients in out-of-county facilities puts a burden on their families.

    Crestwood Behavioral Health will run the program. The city is funding the program and is responsible for the placements and care of the patients.

    The San Francisco Healing Center will cost $5 million a year to operate 40 beds. Fourteen beds are available for other providers to purchase for their clients, according to city officials.

    The non-profit hospital system Dignity Health contributed money toward the cost of space and renovations at St. Mary's.

    The University of California at San Francisco contributed $1 million to the cost of renovations and programming.

    Conservatorship is a form of civil commitment by a judge after finding that the person is gravely disabled due to a serious mental illness and cannot take care of his or her basic needs.

    City officials said serious mental illnesses are treatable and people who receive treatment and manage their illness can recover. Jail is not conducive to a person's recovery and when patients remain in the hospital, psychiatric emergency services back up.

    Board of Supervisors president London Breed said in a statement about today's announcement, "These additional beds are critical to providing a pathway to help us get individuals who are conserved healthy, stabilized and housed for the long-term."

    Breed said she has introduced legislation to decriminalize mental health conservatorship by making the city attorney and not the district attorney responsible for the cases.

    Breed will be introducing legislation establishing a pilot program focused on identifying and coordinating services for the highest-risk individuals suffering from severe mental illness, substance abuse and chronic homelessness.

    Full Article & Source:
    City Adds Dozens Of Conservatorship Beds To Help Mentally Ill

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    Christopher Paul Chipman
    A Rome man was jailed Monday after threatening a victim over the age of 65.
    According to Floyd County Jail reports:
    Christopher Paul Chipman, 31, of 160 Agnes Street, was arrested at his home around noon Monday after allegedly intimidating a man over the age of 65.

    Chipman took movement toward the elderly victim in a manner that caused the victim to fear physical harm.

    Chipman, who was being held in the Floyd County Jail Monday night without bond, was charged with exploitation and intimidation of an elder, a felony and misdemeanor simple assault.

    Full Article & Source: 
    Rome man charged with elder abuse

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    CBS46 NewsATLANTA (CBS46) - Three Dekalb County healthcare providers are now  facing charges after the death of a nursing home resident.

    Investigators say Loyce Agyeman, Wanda Nuckles and Mable Turman failed to provide timely and necessary medical help and ignored a dying man's cries for help back in 2014.

    But, this situation isn’t as isolated as you may think. It is said that for every one case of elder abuse that comes to the attention of authorities, there are another 23 cases never come to light. It’s an issue that has many like Stone Mountain resident Shoshannah Bryant on edge.

    "My biggest concern is abuse I'm concerned about possible abuse," said Bryant who currently has two family members in area nursing homes.

    Byrant adds she is constantly worried about the care her loved ones are receiving, a concern that is legitimate when examining recent statistics.

    According to the Georgia Crime Information Center, more than 777 charges were filed against nearly 560 individuals for abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult in 2016. And, while the stats for 2017 aren't out yet they're expected to be similar.

    "It could happen to anyone, my loved one is not exempt. But, I pray that it doesn't happen but it's possible because I'm not there 24/7 so I don't see everything that goes on in the facility," said Bryant.

    But the Department of Human Services, Aging Services Division says there are a lot of things you can do to prevent your loved one from becoming a victim of elderly abuse.

    "Around physical abuse, you want to look for bruising,the lacerations, you want to look for wounds that are various stages of healing, bite marks," said Abby Cox the director of Aging Services.

    Cox adds because the signs of physical abuse can vary, you should also be on guard for signs of overall neglect.

    "You want to lookout for dehydration, malnutrition, a home that is not in a safe environment for a person to live in, cloths with urine stains on it"

    In addition, Cox says you should pay attention to changes in your loved ones financial habits and overall you should just be present and visit them on a regular bases. Advice Bryant says she takes.

    “If the family doesn’t go visit their loved ones then they think they’ve been abandoned, and the nursing home workers don’t do the necessary steps that they’re supposed to do in providing care for that individual."

    Full Article & Source:
    Report: Hundreds charged for elder abuse in 2016

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    Credell & Katherine Carter
    The Carter family believes it was a matter of life or death. Katherine Carter hadn’t been home since September 2017 when she went into rehabilitation where she was doing fine—until she was sent to a board and care facility selected by a conservator of the Alameda Probate Court in December 2017, after her insurance ran out.

    Katherine Carter has failed to thrive and continues to decline despite efforts by the family to adhere to Carter’s doctor’s request for a more skilled facility. Their request was denied.

    The conservator chose instead a place she deemed “culturally appropriate.” Mrs. Carter is African-American.

    Under choices made under the conservator’s “care,” Katherine’s on-going chronic kidney dysfunction was not addressed, her ankles began to swell, and she developed a blood clot in her left leg.

    Any time the family requested that meals be adjusted because of high sodium levels, they were ignored. When a request was made for her to see the doctor, they were ignored and were informed by the conservator that there was not an immediate need.

    The last straw occurred for the Carter family after the family took Katherine to the hospital last week. Her creatinine levels were higher than normal levels, with blood pressure over 200, and she was dehydrated. The conservator stated that it was an unnecessary visit and that Katherine was not to be removed from the facility ever again without her approval.

    The family decided the only alternative was to go rogue.  On Wednesday, Credell Carter, Katherine’s husband, removed his wife from the health facility.

    Mr. Carter, and his two daughters Venus and Kimberly had no idea what the consequences of their actions would bring but they believed they faced a life-or-death-sentence choice for their wife and mother—and they chose life.

    The Carter family was supported by the Alameda County Probate Court Reform Movement, comprised of 78 families whose estates have been wiped out by the Probate Court.

    President of the Reform Movement Maxine Ussery, started the group after her family lost their $5.2-million estate and walked away from the court with a meager $32,000.

    Said Ussery, “The court is deliberately stripping elderly and minority family estates to keep their doors open, and it has got to stop. We’re standing with the Carter family before they become another sad statistic.

    “We’re determined to bring attention to this travesty called a court system, and demand the courts stop decimating our estates to keep their doors open. We’ll be there to support the Carter family, we’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we’re drawing our line in the sand.”

    Katherine Carter was safely removed from board and care without incident. Mr. Carter stated his understanding is he is within his rights to save his wife.

    “Besides, Judge Reardon said I could take her home after she left the Genesis facility.  He just didn’t tell me when,” he added.

    Carter’s daughter Venus Gist said, “I’m strong about this.  The court is killing mom for profit.”

    UPDATE: Credell Carter went to court this week to face the consequences of taking his wife Katherine Carter out of a board-and-care facility, where she was living in conditions that the family believed were hazardous to her health.  At the hearing on February 21st, the judge threw out all the charges brought against Mr. Carter, who was reappointed as trustee of his and his wife’s trust and given custody again of the care of Mrs. Carter.  The Carter family has been supported by the Probate Court Reform Movement.

    Full Article & Source:
    Husband Rescues Wife from Board and Care Facility on Valentine’s Day

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    03/09/18 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – ACTION HAPPENING NOW

    For More Information:

    Mike Oxford: (785) 224-3865

    Cal Montgomery: (312) 813-6816 (text only)

    Priya Penner: (585) 944-3086

    Marilee Adamski-Smith: (715) 204-4152

    WHO: National ADAPT

    WHAT: ADAPT Demands the FDA to Stop Shocking Disabled People into Submission

    WHERE: In front of FDA Director Scott Gottlieb’s house, Pennsylvania Ave NW & L St NW, Washington
    DC 20037

    WHEN: Friday, March 9, 2018, happening now

    DISABILITY RIGHTS GROUP DEMANDS THE FDA ISSUE LONG-DELAYED REGULATIONS

    03/09/2018 – Washington, D.C. Members of the national disability rights group ADAPT are outside the home of FDA Director Scott Gottlieb demanding that he release the regulations that would immediately end the use of an electric shock device to control disabled children and adults at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts. “The FDA wrote the regulations to stop this in 2016, but has delayed them,” said Rhoda Gibson, an organizer with the Massachusetts ADAPT chapter. “Disabled Americans are tortured in my state every day with Gottlieb’s blessing.”

    ADAPT and other disability led organizations have been calling for an end to JRC’s use of this device for years now. The group went and protested the facility in 2016 and then went to the FDA last spring. They are now at Gottlieb’s house because they feel the FDA has dragged their feet for too long and needs to release the regulations immediately. “Disabled people are being tortured there every day. This has gone on long enough. The federal government needs to stop looking the other way and do something about this” said Priya Penner of Rochester New York.

    Numerous news outlets have covered the torture that goes on at the Judge Rotenberg Center including Fox UnderCover, ABC Nightline and Anderson Cooper. In 2012 Fox UnderCover exposed the video of Andre McCollins being tortured at JRC for over 7 hours and shocked 31 times. JRC tried to keep this video under wraps for over 8 years but Fox Undercover’s story exposed the cruelty of the practice to the American public. The torture still continues to this today.

    While ADAPT has long opposed all institutions they hold a special contempt for the Rotenberg Center because of their use of electro shock devices. “The JRC has a bigger system of abusive violence and coercion, but the shock is the worst thing they do. This shock is specifically designed to be more painful than a police taser,” said organizer Marilee Adamski-Smith with the Central Wisconsin ADAPT Chapter. Adamski-Smith pointed to survivor Jennifer Msumba’s statements about wanting to die when she was shocked.

    Activists argue that rather than torture used at the JRC, more supports are needed to assist people living in the community. “Those supports work,” said Cal Montgomery, an organizer with the Chicago ADAPT. “Gentle, trauma-informed approaches that give people control over their own lives result in even people with histories of violence and self-injury living happy, healthy lives. Pain and fear may suppress dangerous behavior in the short term, but they make the underlying problems worse.”

    For decades ADAPT has struggled to secure for disabled Americans the same rights and liberties enjoyed by their nondisabled neighbors. Learn more about ADAPT’s history and activities at www.adapt.org, on social media with the NationalADAPT Facebook page and on the @NationalADAPT Twitter, and under the hashtag #ADAPTandRESIST. You can also follow the fight against the JRC shock device at www.adapt.org/jrc and #StopTheShock.

    Full Article & Source:
    ADAPT Demands the FDA to Stop Shocking Disabled People into Submission

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    An Iowa prosecutor is dropping felony charges against a nursing home operator accused of misusing cash from a resident's personal funds.

    Marc Johnson, whose company runs the Danville Care Center in southeast Iowa, had been charged by Iowa's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit with fraudulent practices and dependent-adult abuse in the form of financial exploitation.

    But County Attorney Amy Beavers told the Des Moines Register that the facility's owner claimed he might have to close the center and evict its three dozen residents if Johnson were convicted.

    Johnson is president of Cardinal Care Company. He formed the for-profit company in 2012 and was hired the next year by the Danville Development Co. to run the Danville Care Center. Danville Development President Matthew Hauptman told the Register that closure was “unlikely” but that his company had to guard against the possibility.

    The decision not to prosecute doesn't “pass the smell test,” advocates for the elderly told the newspaper.

    “For the county attorney to close her eyes to this and leave this man in a position of authority so the business can remain open just seems absurd to me,” Dean Lerner, an advocate for seniors who once ran the Iowa agency that inspects nursing homes, told the Register.

    The case began with the Medicaid Fraud Unit 2016, when the state accused Johnson of spending almost $700 on a television for the facility, using money from the trust account of an elderly resident. Johnson also was charged in connection with making two $500 "donations" from the same resident's account to the facility, with the money going toward events and equipment.

    Though a deferred-prosecution agreement, Beavers promised not to pursue the charges if Johnson paid all court costs associated with the case and doesn't violate any laws for two years. Beavers said a state audit of the residents' trust accounts revealed no irregularities.

    Full Article & Source:


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    Our state needs to change its guardianship system to better protect families and individuals.
    In Pennsylvania, someone who makes a living doing your nails or braiding your hair must be licensed by the Department of State. A notary public must take a class, be approved by the state Senate and obtain a $10,000 surety bond.

    A professional guardian, someone tasked with making decisions about health care, living arrangements, finances and more for those considered incompetent to manage their own affairs, requires only court approval. State law requires no certification, no background check, no insurance against loss of the individual's assets, really nothing but the trust of an orphans court.

    The failings of this system - which strips individuals of even limited control over their own lives - are many, as a three-day series in the Reading Eagle found.

    Among them:

    Nine months after a woman who had been convicted of financial theft in Virginia became the court-appointed guardian of a Montgomery County man's assets, his house was subject to foreclosure over unpaid mortgage payments and other bills. The same woman had been appointed guardian in 88 other cases in 2015 and 2016 in Montgomery County and Philadelphia.

    Data on guardianship in Pennsylvania are not collected in any organized fashion, making the system difficult to monitor and problem areas hard to quantify and therefore a challenge to solve.

    Though family connections are no guarantee of fealty to an elderly person's best interests, Berks County courts appear to favor professional guardians to a degree that seems difficult to justify. In 92 percent of cases in which the Berks County Area Agency on Aging asked a court for one in 2016, a professional guardian or attorney was appointed. In spite of there being family members living in the state in half of the cases, a relative was appointed only twice. As Sam Brooks, senior attorney for Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, said, "The default position should be to look for family."

    Many of those ruled incapable of making their own decisions and given a court-appointed guardian - 76.9 percent in Philadelphia from 2014 through 2016 - were not present at the hearing stripping them of their rights, had no attorney representing them in the proceeding, or both.

    Even when an attorney is appointed on an individual's behalf, that attorney is under no obligation to argue against a guardian; an attorney can instead take the position that a guardianship would be in the individual's best interest.

    Pennsylvania's guardianship system clearly needs an overhaul.

    In an incompetency hearing, for example, there should be someone to argue for competency, leaving it to a judge to decide what would best serve an individual's best interests. Failure to do so creates the potential that a person could lose even limited oversight of their health care, lifestyle and assets.

    Family members, particularly those who express interest in a relative's care, should get a chance to make a case that they're able to do so.

    And most importantly, the state needs to set standards for professional guardians. People convicted of theft should not be put in charge of others' assets.

    Full Article & Source:
    Editorial: Important safeguard failing state's elderly

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    Please feel free to call in to the show this evening at 8 pm CST. 917-388-4520

     A special thanks to all of our previous guests and all show hosts!

    And, A special thank you to Marcel Reid and the Whistleblowers! Summit for our panel at the Summit again this year! Thank you to Danny Tate for our fabulous intro music. To all who have contributed their time and energy to bring TS Radio to this milestone, you have my deepest gratitude. We could not have been the success we are without all of you and your individual efforts combined together and working as a team! Each show is promoted individually and available in archive on TS Radio/marti-oakley Just look for the logo of your favorite show!

    Over these years we have covered guardianship/conservator abuse of the elderly, elder abuse & neglect, nursing home abuses, corrupt courts, CPS threats to families, corrupt government agencies, whistleblowers, our veterans, death by Hospice, medical kidnap, judicial corruption, animal advocacy and agricultural/land issues.

    We could not have accomplished all of this without all of you!!

    LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

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    A Minnesota House committee listens to a legislative auditor's report on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, about a state office that failed to properly investigate elder abuse allegations. Don Davis / Forum News Service
    ST. PAUL — A state office that exists to protect vulnerable Minnesotans, such as those in nursing homes, is dysfunctional and fails to safeguard people in its charge, a watchdog agency reports.

    The Office of Legislative Auditor issued one of its most critical reports ever on Tuesday, March 6. Legislative Auditor James Nobles called it "a serious problem in state government."

    Nobles and Deputy Legislative Auditor Judy Randall told of poor Health Department management, lost case files, lengthy delays and failure to communicate with vulnerable people.

    "The problems ... are deep and pervasive and have been there a long time," Nobles said. "They are rooted in poor management."

    Workers take pride in their work, Nobles said, but "for too long they have had to work in an environment that was ... sometimes toxic."

    Problems Nobles' office found included:

    • Ineffective case management.
    • Unwritten and frequently changing policies.
    • Ineffective staff training.
    • Staff turnover that sometimes is 25 percent a year.
    • Lack of staff confidence in leadership.

    The investigation into the Office of Health Facility Complaints within the Health Department showed those problems resulted in investigations of abuse being long delayed.

    Just 17 percent of 2017 cases met a two-day deadline to be read, let alone investigated, the report showed.

    The two-day deadline is for people in "immediate jeopardy," Randall said, incidents such as when someone has been threatened with serious harm.

    The auditor's office reported that one of the cases its investigators checked out "appeared to have been lost for ... more than two years after (the office) received the allegation report."

    In recent years, Randall said, the Health Department office took an average of 140 days to complete investigations, far more than the 60 days set in state law. It took an average of 38 days to interview vulnerable adults involved in an incident, Randall said, so long that people likely would not be able to remember details.

    The report did not indicate if there were any deaths or health issues that resulted in investigation delays.

    State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, who Gov. Mark Dayton appointed to fill an opening in recent weeks, said she agreed with the audit, adding changes already are being made.

    The backlog of cases has been reduced. A stack of more than 2,300 cases that needed to go through triage has been eliminated, Malcolm said, and the 826 open investigations in December are down to 430.

    "This progress, while extremely impressive, is a first step," the commissioner said. "Necessary, but not sufficient."

    Part of the problem in the Health Department has been that reports filed electronically were printed out and investigators worked off the hard copies. Malcolm said that the 400 allegations submitted each week now are dealt with via computer, making case management more effective.

    Malcolm promised to address morale after the audit report showed almost 60 percent of staff said they do not have confidence in senior leadership.

    Staff members said there was "disorganization" and "mistrust" in the office.

    Malcolm said her department is developing employee training and promised to do a better job of communication within the department and with those affected.

    The commissioner refused to tell Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, if she has fired anyone for the problems. Malcolm said she is not allowed to discuss the issue because it is a private personnel issue, but promised "we are addressing it quite directly."

    Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, said the first thing the Legislature needs to do is collect information, so she has introduced legislation to establish a task force that would provide answers for the 2019 legislative session.

    "We must make real and lasting changes" after getting more information, Kiel said.

    "Seniors and their families need to have confidence in knowing how the system works ... and what they can do in the event of mistreatment," the representative said.

    Fixing the state complaint office is the first step in reducing abuse and other maltreatment, Kiel said.

    The audit report pointed out that the Health Department mostly regulates nursing homes, while other government agencies regulate assisted living and other facilities.

    A group working on the issue, the Elder Abuse Workgroup, praised the overall audit report, but called for some changes in state law.

    For instance, the group seeks to apply similar rules and laws to assisted living centers that nursing homes follow. It also seeks more rights for senior citizens to reduce the fear they feel ini reporting nursing home maltreatment.

    Full Article & Source:
    Minn. agency that protects nursing home residents has been labeled dysfunctional

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    Most of us insure our cars, homes, and other valuables.

    But what about your wishes?

    Who would you trust to pay your bills, manage your investments, and make important health care decisions if you can’t?

    Who would make sure that things get done just the way you want them done in the event of something happening to you?

    It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, healthy or frail, wealthy or not-so-wealthy.

    Life-threatening accidents happen every day, and debilitating illnesses can strike with little notice.

    That’s why you should consider drafting “if I get hit by a bus” documents.

    Without them, you might not be happy about who takes control of your life or the decisions they make on your behalf if you can’t.

    Let’s start with the difference between a power of attorney and a DURABLE power of attorney.

    A power of attorney appoints someone you select to act on your behalf for legal or financial matters, such as operating a business or buying real estate.

    In most states, it terminates if you become incapacitated.

    A “durable power of attorney” automatically extends during the time you are incapacitated and unable to make important decisions.

    The person you appoint is known as an attorney-in-fact but they do not have to be an actual lawyer.
    You can also appoint a second-tier or a third-tier person in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to assume the role.

    Generally speaking, your DPOA should be broken into two parts.

    DPOA Part 1:
    A durable power of attorney for your finances.


    This document gives someone the power to manage your finances.

    The amount of power you allow is up to you. But it has to be spelled out in the document.

    The authority could include collecting mail, filing tax returns, making sure you’re taking RMDs from retirement accounts, and maintaining your home.

    The person you pick should have discipline, patience, and a good dose of common sense.

    If your finances are complex, you might allow your agent to hire professionals to assist.

    DPOA Part 2:
    A durable power of attorney for health care.


    This document spells out your health care wishes if are unable to speak for yourself.

    It takes effect if your doctor determines you lack the capacity to make your own decisions. For instance, in case you can’t understand the health care choices available or if you are unable to communicate your wishes because you’re unconscious.

    In other words, when you are too ill or injured to let your wishes known, the document becomes active. If or when you recover, it no longer applies.

    This person you name might be known as your attorney-in-fact, agent, health care proxy, or health care surrogate. It depends on where you live.

    They will do their best to assure you receive the level of medical care you hope to receive.

    What’s more, they’re required by law to follow instructions you’ve included in your document.

    You might also want to include, or have as a separate document, a health care declaration or living will…

    Here you state whether or not you want to be kept on life support if you become terminally ill and will die shortly without it or fall into a persistent vegetative state.

    This can also address other important questions, detailing your preferences for tube feeding, artificial hydration, and pain medication in certain situations.

    Hey, look, I know this isn’t stuff you really want to think about. But it’s better you tackle it now than let someone else tackle it for you!

    This doesn’t have to be a complex process, either.

    You can find the above documents online and complete them yourself.

    However, to make sure that the documents cover your unique situation and meet your state’s requirements, your best option is to get advice from an estate planning attorney.

    Also let family members know where to locate the documents and explain why you made specific choices. Hopefully, that will keep them from feuding or heading to court when you need them the most.

    One more thing to keep in mind? Things change over time!

    Our lives constantly change …  be it health, marital status, or finances. That means your “if I get hit by a bus” documents should change, too.

    For example, suppose you drafted a health care power of attorney with your spouse as your attorney-in-fact … but now you’re divorced.

    I’m guessing you wouldn’t want your ex-spouse making medical decisions on your behalf!

    Yet that’s what happened to Gary Coleman, the child actor who starred in the 1970s show “Diff’rent Strokes.”

    In 2010, Coleman had an accident at home. While in the hospital, he fell into a coma and was placed on life support. The following day, his ex had the hospital pull the plug, even though his advanced medical directive stated that his life be prolonged as possible!

    The lesson here is not to just draft your documents and forget about them.

    If you get divorced or experience any other significant life change, make sure your wishes get updated, too.

    To a richer life,
    Nilus Mattive
    Nilus Mattive

    Full Article & Source:
    Is Your Durable Power of Attorney Missing This?

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