Dementia care center facing abuse charges

A local story caught my interest today. It’s a sad one, and a story that no one wants to hear, especially if you have a loved one in an Alzheimer’s care facility. The caregivers at a metro Atlanta memory care center are facing 72 abuse-related charges. The allegations include restraining patients with bedsheets, throwing water at patients and putting multiple diapers on patients so they wouldn’t have to change them as often.

The facility was immediately shut down and both current and past caregivers will have their day in court. The most surprising aspect of the case to me was the interviews with the relatives of patients who were residing at this facility. The ones the local news interviewed were shocked by the allegations. One woman had even moved her mother from another facility to this one because she was receiving inferior care at the first facility. No one interviewed had seen anything related to the charges filed. Either the case is overblown or the caregivers were good at hiding their abusive actions.

The relatives were also upset about having to “claim” their loved one at a moment’s notice, since the facility was immediately shut down. It is a shame that there is not some safety net in place so that families are not left looking for another care center on their own while having to take care of their loved one at home. (One woman said it took months to find the right center, and I’ve read stories from bloggers who have said the same thing.)

The takeaways from this case for me is to really look at a care center from top to bottom as objectively as you can. Try to visit outside of normal business hours if possible. With Dad, we were not able to visit as regularly as we’d have liked, but with Mom I was there almost every day. Did it make a difference? I feel like they received a similar quality of care but I felt more in control by being a daily presence. Of course, visiting daily is not viable for everyone and should not be required for your loved one to receive compassionate care.

The second takeaway for me is having a backup plan. If the facility where your loved one resides is suddenly shut down, are you prepared to house them indefinitely? I know my house with stairs is not safe for a dementia patient. If you have siblings or other relatives, have you discussed with them if they would be willing to provide temporary housing? Taking in a dementia patient requires 24/7 care as we all know. Are there sufficient at-home services in your area? I know where my mom lives, the home care resources are very limited.

A tragic case provides some food for thought.

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6 Comments

Filed under Awareness & Activism

6 responses to “Dementia care center facing abuse charges

  1. Thank you for a very important post. It would be difficult to find another place at a moment’s notice, even after visiting several places. Depending on the wize of the closed facility, it could exceed the number of beds available at other nearby facilities. What a nightmare!

  2. Omg…so, so sad. As a nurse, I am never surprised. One good thing about my job is I am known in the community, as are other directors. I am very watchful of care, though I have been fooled before. We just had a HHA steal jewels from a client and try to sell them. Doesn’t happen often but once is too much. This stuff makes me so sad…on every level.

  3. Your post certainly does provide food for thought. It is always so painful to read about travesties like the one described in the allegations. But when I read these stories, I also become concerned for the caregivers at well-run facilities. During the years my Mother was in a nursing home, I gained the deepest respect and gratitude for the people who took care of her (discussed on the Swift Current Christmas post last year and intend to do so again in the future). I don’t think I was just lucky; my mom’s caregivers were highly trained and compassionate professionals. I am so sad when these stories reflect on an entire profession.
    Also, when my Mom first entered a facility, I visited an eldercare attorney who gave me what I considered critical advice. She said it didn’t matter how much the room rate was or the location etc– the only thing that mattered was that the staff know someone could be visiting my Mom every day. That might sound like a high bar, and a lack of trust for the same professionals I just lauded, but I got her point. And we designed of village of people so that my Mom had frequent visitors…you never knew when someone from our extended family, friends, church, etc would walk through the door, including one person who went every day. And because she saw her daily, she noticed even the smallest changes. Is this a huge investment? Yes. But I guess we have to use the same logic as you would for a toddler; you wouldn’t leave a child alone for a long extended period with people you don’t know…and even with the best situation, vigilance pays off. Clearly there are a myriad of issues…thanks again for your post, Hallie

    • Great advice about taking a “village” approach to keep a regular stream of visitors coming to a facility. And yes, I’ve met some amazing nurses and caregivers who were patient and compassionate when caring for my parents. Their hard work and dedication definitely needs to be recognized!

      • At some point, I will write about this one my blog…but I used to be relentless about reminding cousins et al that she was still loving company and cards etc. For a decade, I basically conducted a mini marketing campaign for my Mom…in addition to the people I knew were stopping by regularly (even a former high school teacher visited every Sunday because her church was close by). It was amazing what people will do, I think they just have to know it’s OK to do it! H

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