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Cautionary Tales from Nursing Homes

March 8th, 2012

In keeping with our on-going series, today’s blog is about nursing home tragedy. We collect stories from around the world to remind everyone that the elderly are vulnerable to abusers and unscrupulous care facilities. If there is a lesson to be taken from these stories, it is that friends and family of nursing home residents need to visit often, stay involved, and speak up if anything seems unusual.

Here’s today’s nursing home story round-up:

Whose Meth Lab Was It?

Investigation of a deadly fire at Park Haven Home in Ashtabula, Ohio, revealed that the blaze began in a resident’s room…where someone had created a shake-and-bake meth lab. The man who died, 31-year-old Shaun Warrens, was not a patient or an employee of the facility. As of this writing, it’s not clear what connections he had to the nursing home. Three residents and one non-resident were hospitalized with injuries caused by the fire.

According to an article by the Associated Press:

Police Chief Robert Stell told the Star Beacon of Ashtabula that police believe two visitors and one Park Haven resident knew about the meth lab. Police expect to charge two men who also were burned in the fire.

Methamphetamine, or “meth,” is a highly addictive stimulant. Mobile meth labs, also called one-pot or shake-and-bake labs, usually consist of a 2-liter bottle and the drug’s ingredients. According to Bob Frey, of the health department:

“Basically, you can take all of the components and equipment and put it in a backpack and use it to brew a small quantity of methamphetamine,” he said. “It’s a highly dangerous but very self-contained method of making methamphetamine.”

Shaking the mixture agitates the chemicals and produces the heat needed to cook the drug. But it can also cause a violent reaction that could melt or rupture the container. The explosion or fire usually is confined to the person making the drug and the surrounding area, Frey said.

Meth is a problem nationwide, but it’s highly uncommon in a nursing home setting. I’m not sure whether this speaks more to the expansion of meth’s addictive reach, or to the changing demographics of nursing homes. As addiction spreads, it eventually reaches all segments of society.

To read the full story, click here:  http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nursing-home-with-meth-1374675.html

Jailed for Facebook Photos

According to the Daily Reporter, 26-year-old Oregon nursing assistant Nai Mai Chao served eight days in jail after a jury found her guilty of invasion of personal privacy. Some believe that her crime should have brought a much higher punishment.

“Invasion of personal privacy” sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it?  What Ms. Chao did was awful:  She took disturbing photos of elderly and disabled patients using bedpans, then posted them on Facebook. Ms. Chao surrendered her nursing certificate, and was fired from the Regency Pacific Nursing and Rehab Center where she worked.

To read the full story, click here: http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/5365bdb7f2544ef9a21be69e5d6f1d4f/US–Nursing-Home-Photos/

British Elderly Denied Basic Care

According to an article in The Telegraph, more than half of nursing home residents are denied even basic health services. Some have to wait up to three months for formal checks of painful conditions, such as bed sores… some face significant delays in getting their medication… and many are not given a choice of male or female staff to help them use the bathroom, raising issues of dignity and respect.

The Geriatrics Society issued results of a study that showed that about half of primary care facilities don’t even provide key services, such as continence assessments, physiotherapy, bed sore checks, and mental health services. According to the president of the society:

“What it shows is that there is a massive disconnect between what the NHS aspires to and what it actually delivers to people in care homes and they are the most vulnerable group of people.

To read the full story, click here:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/9126976/More-than-half-care-home-residents-denied-basic-care-unpublished-data-shows.html

Vulnerable, Inside and Out

When you have to rely on other people for your daily care, you have to trust that you won’t be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, the elderly are often more vulnerable to scammers, cheats, and liars. Case in point:  64-year-old Surjeet Chana, a British “grandmother” who worked in the Land Registry office. She used her position to supply documents to a white-collar gang that stole houses from elderly people who had moved into nursing facilities.

According to an article in The Telegraph:

Using information she gathered, including title deeds and ownership signatures, the group targeted empty homes, pretending to be the owners and selling them on to third parties.

Over the past two years, the gang sold at least nine properties across London, worth a combined value of about $8 million. The judge who sentenced Chana to more than 3 years in prison called her “greedy” and “corrupted.”

You have brought great shame on yourself and your family, you have ruined your career and no doubt prejudiced your pension rights.

Judge Grieve added the gang preyed on “highly vulnerable” victims whose family homes which had a “lifetime of memories” were sold from beneath their noses. “It takes little imagination to realise the shattering trauma that this experience would bring,” he said.

Indeed.

To read the full story, click here:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9126384/Grandmother-jailed-after-plot-to-steal-homes-from-elderly.html

One Final Insult

Even after a resident died, one nursing home went the final, abusive step. In Great Britain, the Highcliffe Nursing Home sent a bill for the equivalent of about $4,740.00 because the dead man didn’t give 4 weeks notice of his death. Got that? The nursing home claims that unless they receive advance notice of a resident’s death, the resident (or his family) can be charged for an extra month’s stay at the facility. They claim that the charge is valid…similar to not giving a month’s notice before moving out of an apartment.

According to an article in the British newspaper The Daily Mail, the resident’s daughter felt that her father had been well cared-for while he lived at the facility, but she questions the crazy charge.

“I wouldn’t mind paying for a week,” she said. “But to pay for a month – which covers his food, laundry and nursing care – is daylight robbery.”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the billing department was overly efficient. The bereaved daughter received the notice the day after her father’s funeral. The nursing home administrators claim they are reviewing this policy.

To read the full story, click here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2104184/Care-home-bills-grieving-daughter-3k-didnt-notice-fathers-DEATH.html#ixzz1oY2dZafV