This week the Oxford Press shared an absolutely heart-breaking story of home health care gone awry. It is a sobering reminder that while most home health care workers are fantastic resources that provide great services to their clients, the potential for home care abuse and mistreatment still exists. Most believe that it is preferable for the elderly and disabled to avoid institutional settings when they need extra care. Stories of nursing home abuse and neglect abound, counseling many to seek out every possible alternative before resorting to the institutional facilities.
Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers know that in many ways this advice still holds. Elderly and disabled children continue to experience inadequate care on a routine basis at many of these worst facilities. For example, blog readers are likely familiar with the chronic problems at Alden Village North where dozens of children died mysteriously over the years, often from clear nursing home neglect. For all the consternation about institutional care it is vital not to forget that at the end of the day mistreatment is caused by those providing the care, whether that be in a large facility or at one’s own home.
Nothing hammers home that message more than the story of 14-year old Makayla Norman. The girl suffered from cerebral palsy. She was unable to communicate, walk, or feed herself. She was a participant in a state program that was intended to allow the girl to remain at home with her family instead of put away in a less personal (and more expensive) institutional setting. According to state reports Makayla died recently in horrific conditions. After an investigation her death was ruled a homicide, caused by medical and nutritional neglect. At the time of her death the young girl weighed only 28 pounds. Her entire body was unwashed and she was covered in open bed sores. Some of those sores were packed with her own feces. Those familiar with the situation say it is far and away the worst they have ever seen. For the entire last year of the young girl’s life she was essentially left to rot. Her only nutrition during that time was a few cans of Ensure that she got daily through a feeding tube.
After the circumstances of the death were uncovered, several of the involved parties were indicted on criminal charges. The girl’s at home care provider-who was suppose to spend hours on her care each day-was charged with involuntary manslaughter. She remains in jail on a $250,000 bond. According to the nursing reports that were filed, the woman claims to have spent 48 hours a week caring for the girl. In reality she was only there a few times a month. Also charged with crimes were the caregiver’s supervisor who was supposed to check on the girl’s care monthly. None of the reports written or approved by the two women mention anything about bed sores, weight loss, or other problems. Makayla’s mother was also charged with involuntary manslaughter. She clearly should have stepped in and taken action when it became clear that her daughter was not receiving the care to which any reasonable human was entitled.
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