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Nurse Punished for Illinois Senior Financial Exploitation

The State-Journal Register reported this week on penalties faced by one senior caregiver for intentional misconduct at a nursing home. The story is a reminder of the need for friends and family members of local seniors to keep a close eye on both the physical and financial well-being of their loved ones in nursing homes. Intentional nursing home abuse and neglect takes many forms-being aware of all potential problems is the first step in ensuring they do not strike.

IDFPR Sanctions
The state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported that the nurse sanctioned in this situation “exhibited multiple instances of unethical and unprofessional activities.” In particular, the story notes that while working at a long-term nursing home in Maryville, Illinois the woman deposited a personal check from a resident for $500 and put it in her own account. This led to her firing from the home. The nurse never reported the firing to state regulators as required, however. As a result the woman’s licensed was revoked.

Illinois Nursing Home Financial Exploitation
It is important that this sort of conduct have clear (and public) repercussions in order to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. Of course, it is possible that the nurse in this case made a single bad decision, perhaps influenced by any number of events in her personal life. Yet, our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers understand that the relationship between seniors in these facilities and their caregivers is an incredibly sensitive one. Extra precautions have to be taken all time to ensure that the vulnerabilities of the senior-resident are not exploited. This usually means a “zero tolerance” policy must be in place.

Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers
Unfortunately, elder abuse attorneys know that close enforcement and observation of unfair and exploitative conduct is more an exception than a rule in these situations. It is tempting to read the stories of legal and regulatory action against facilities and caregivers as proof that the system is working as it should to keep seniors safe. However, an examination of the overall situation reveals that much more work remains.

That is because the vast majority of negligent actions and intentional misconduct that harms seniors goes without punishment. This particular report about the nurse taking the $500 check does not indicate how the facility officials became aware of the situation. It is most likely that certain fluke events or especially aggressive family oversight was at the root of uncovering the problem. In many other cases, it is unlikely that the caregiver would have gotten caught.

The disparity between acts of misconduct and accountability for misconduct is wide. That is why those of us working in this area continue to raise awareness of the scope and form of elder abuse. The hope is that repeated calls to action will slowly begin to change community consciousness about the rights afforded to nursing home residents. In that way, perhaps more onlookers will take the time to step up and demand accountability when they see those senior rights violated.

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