On December 29, 2017, five people were charged with homicide in the deaths of two Colorado residents in two separate long-term care facilities- one at Wheat Ridge Regional Center’s Seacrest House, and the other at an Ashley Manor Assisted Living Facility. The deaths occurred in 2014 and 2016, and charges were brought about as a result of investigations performed by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
The death at Seacrest House occurred while a resident was in a bathtub. The resident had a history of a seizure disorder and was not to be left alone. However, the caretakers on duty disregarded these instructions. They left the resident alone in the bath tub, and when they checked back in after a time span of 10 minutes, the resident had drowned. The coroner listed the death as a drowning which could have been preceded by a seizure. Both of the caretakers on duty were charged with alleged criminally negligent homicide of an at-risk adult.
The death at Ashley Manor was found to be a result of probable heat stress. According to the Denver Patch, video surveillance revealed that the resident had not been checked on by staff for at least three hours, despite instructions to perform a headcount of all residents every 15 minutes. During that three-hour span of time, the resident fell outside and lay there in the summer heat until staff found her, approximately an hour and a half later. All three caretakers on duty at the time, responsible for performing the quarter-hour head counts, were charged with criminally negligent homicide of an at-risk adult. In addition, one of the three caretakers was charged with tampering with evidence and another with attempting to influence a public servant.
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide, for every one case of elder abuse reported, more than five go unreported. A survey of nursing home residents showed that up to 44 percent of residents reported that they had been abused at some point in their residency, and 95 percent stated that they had seen another resident neglected.
For those of us with loved ones in the care of a nursing home, these are startling statistics. The best thing we can do for our loved ones is to educate ourselves, pay attention, and utilize the proper resources when necessary. Sometimes, the proper resources may include seeking legal counsel. You can find all sorts of resources online to help you learn about things like elder law and Medicaid planning. Using these resources, you can then make sure you’re informed and keeping an eye on the treatment of your loved ones in a care facility.
If you suspect abuse or neglect for your loved one, don’t wait another day. Ask questions, pay attention, and speak out if you see it.