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Disturbing Case of Elder Abuse Leads to Death

Recent developments in a disturbing case of elder abuse that led to death have focused particular scrutiny on the perpetrators not only because of the grisly details of the case, but also because the two caregivers had been approved by the state as adult caretakers for the 90-year old victim.

The two caregivers were the victim’s grandson and daughter. The two are charged with elder abuse and neglect for allegedly leaving the senior unattended for weeks. A paramedic found Gray lying in her own feces. She also had grade 4 bed sores and was surrounded by flies.
According to two recent articles in the Kern Valley Sun, four different agencies investigated the adequacy of the victim’s care for several weeks in February 2011. A representative from Aging and Adult Services (AAS) ultimately concluded that she had been being neglected. Although the 90-year old was taken from her caregiver’s custody, she subsequently passed away.

Both of the abuser had applied to the woman’s primary caretakers in 1999 and were designated as In House Supportive Services (IHSS) providers. The IHSS program is overseen by the Adult Programs Division of the state’s Department of Social Services. In order to become an IHSS primary caretaker, McCoy and Green had to undergo an extensive criminal background check. They also had to agree to report any suspected abuse, injury, neglect, or potential hazards to a social worker assigned to the victim.

What is not clear, however, is how frequently the caregivers were reviewed in the twelve years following their initial approval to be caretakers. For example, at the time of the various agency investigations, one of the criminals was facing several pending criminal charges, including spousal abuse.

AAS also reported that due to department budget cuts, an IHSS social service worker is no longer assigned exclusively to Kern River Valley. Thus, there was likely minimal direct oversight over IHSS cases in Kern River Valley. Even more troubling is that, according to IHSS Supervisor John Reyes, Gray’s IHSS case was terminated on January 24 because she no longer qualified for financial assistance. In short, McCoy and Green were no longer being paid to care for Gray. Shortly after that decision, Gray was severely mistreated and neglected by her caretakers.

Elder abuse law generally defines neglect as the negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise. As in this case, it can include failure to protect from health and safety hazards, as well as failure to provide medical care and failure to prevent malnutrition and dehydration
Although the caregivers are facing criminal charges, there are also many civil remedies available to victims of nursing home neglect or elder abuse. Our Illinois elder abuse lawyers are well versed in the resources available to help all those who have been harmed in these types of situations. If you have concerns about the care a family member is receiving, please visit a legal professional to learn about signs of abuse and neglect and about how to protect your loved ones.

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