It always seems like the most vulnerable residents of the entire care-related industry are the ones who are most at risk for harm from derelict operators and staff at care facilities. Disturbingly, some facilities in the murky world of ‘personal care homes’ have created an entire industry where elderly and disabled patients go mistreated so their owners can squeeze extra profits out of these facilities. Ignoring the licensure requirements for personal care home altogether, operators of these facilities have created an environment where patients are routinely mistreated behind the doors of facilities that are not even on the radar of regulatory agencies.
Like most industries, the field of providing care for the elderly and disabled has gradually shifted in its focus from the owners who genuinely wish to provide a needed service to those who view the vulnerable group of people as nothing more than an easy target to profit from. Avoiding pesky regulations that may impose care requirements that are expensive and time consuming to implement only takes away from the bottom line, right?
After reading an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Unlicensed homes to face more state scrutiny’ my cynical belief was only reinforced as it seems like some facility operators have done away with any intention of providing quality care by ignoring licensing requirements for the facilities altogether.
The Journal article chronicles how care homes have become a favored type of facility for owners to simply dismiss licensing requirements partially due to the fact that the classification of facilities remains widely unknown and a bit of a mystery to many. Not providing the medical care provided at skilled nursing facilities—commonly referred to as nursing homes or having the structure of assisted living facilities (ALF’s) care homes are frequently smaller operations that provide living assistance such as meals and dressing needs for the disabled and elderly. Further distinguishing care home from the better-known peers, is that most care homes are quite small in terms of their physical size and the number of people they serve.
Likely due to their small size and the fact that many patients may have limited family support, many of the situations involving mistreated patients tended to go undisclosed to authorities. Similarly, when authorities were alerted to the occurrences some law enforcement officials were not familiar with the processes of how to notify regulatory agencies.
Recognizing the real threats that accompany personal care homes can pose to unsuspecting residents that Georgia legislature recently passed more stringent laws which now make the operation of an unlicensed facility a criminal offense with owners potentially facing fines and jail time when they fail to comply.
Hopefully, the new regulations will provide an added level of security for both existing and perspective patients. However, these regulations— like all laws applicable to the care industry— require manpower in order to implement and to have any meaningful impact towards improving the quality of life for this group.
Even without specific regulations in place concerning classifications of care facilities, both residents and families must be aware of the fact that abuse, neglect and other forms of mistreatment have no place in any environment. Regardless of how a facility may be categorized, law enforcement officials can always be called upon to intervene.