Consumer Affairs reported this week on a bizarre case of elder abuse and neglect at a “personal care” home for seniors. The facility involved was apparently a three-bedroom home whose owner tried to convert it into a facility to care for vulnerable seniors. Many of those inside the home had mental health problems. State officials report that there are likely many of these personal care homes being illegally run by those without any lawful right to care for these residents or ability to provide the care that they need.
As one might expect, the level of care provided to vulnerable seniors who end up in these facilities is often shocking. In this latest case, the operator of the home apparently housed 16 vulnerable residents inside the small three-bedroom residential house. As one might expect, it is entirely inappropriate and dangerous for anyone to live in those tight quarters, let alone vulnerable individuals with mental problems who need help with day to day tasks. It is almost a given that elder neglect will arise in these situations.
The woman in this case resorted to locking up all of the residents inside the home while they were living there. This was likely so that they could more easily be kept inside the facility and monitored. Of course that also meant that they were extremely vulnerable in the event of an emergency. This is on top of the complete disregard for the quality of life of these community members forced to unknowingly become virtual prisoners at the hands of the ones intending to keep them safe. Experts indicate that these cases of nursing home abuse are all motivated by an effort to collect money. The victims in these cases are generally provided with a small monthly social security income to account for their needs. These can range anywhere from $550 to $1000 a month. Operators of these homes collect these checks and use them for their own purposes while spending the minimum possible amount of money caring for the residents.
The operator in this case was given two cease and desist orders by state Department of Health officials before a full scale investigation was conducted which ultimately led to her arrest. The woman eventually pled guilty to 15 counts of neglect of vulnerable persons in her care and a count of operating without a license. She was ultimately sentenced to a year in prison along with various fines. Victims were still in her care up to the time of her sentencing, and a judge ordered them to be moved to appropriate facilities.
Our Chicago elder neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti remain disgusted by the way some community members are willing to treat vulnerable victims in pursuit of money. This profit-motivated elder neglect occurs at all levels, from small operations like this one to the largest nursing home conglomerates in the country. The injustice of the situation is the same in each case and helpless victims are hurt in the process. Everything possible must be done to root out these criminals and protect those who they harm.
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