Rhode Island’s NBC 10 news station reported that Herbert Nursing Home in Smithfield is facing a lawsuit brought by three former employees.  A nurse and two certified nursing assistants are suing the facility, saying that they were harassed while working there because they reported a case of sexual abuse.

The staff members informed the health department that a resident of the facility was being sexually molested by her daughters. The health department investigated and cited the nursing home for violations.  As punishment for reporting the abuse, the three staff members were harassed by fellow facility workers and had their hours cut to the extent that they were not making a livable salary. The stress of the situation caused the workers to quit.

It is extremely disheartening that many nursing homes, like this one, are more concerned with covering themselves than protecting and caring for their residents.

PsychCentral and Medicalxpress both published recent articles that explained the importance of staff unity in nursing homes. The information in these articles came from a study published in Health Services Research.  The study found that feelings of staff unity in long term facilities have a direct effect on the quality of care the residents receive.  As reported in the study, when employees feel cared for and like a vital part of a team they provide their residents with a better quality of care. Proper communication, employee benefits and incentives, and adequate staffing are instrutmental in developing staff untiy.

The lead author of the study explained further saying, “We know from other fields of medicine that teamwork – the relationship between coworkers that facilitates decision making and care coordination – plays an important role in the quality of care.”

The articles explained that the study used 45,000 residents in over 160 nursing homes in the state of New York.  The study focused on the frequency of pressure ulcers in the residents, which the authors of the study view as a good indicator of staff communication, or lack thereof because decreased unity causes poor care coordination, lessened communication, and unsatisfactory transfers during shift changes which increase the risk of pressure ulcers.

On the other hand, increased staff unity; the sharing of common goals, values, and responsibility decrease the prevalence of pressure ulcers by encouraging regular monitoring, routing repositioning of the resident, and communication between staff.  The study found that a mere 0.25 increase in staff unity results in a massive 4.5 decrease in the prevalence of pressure ulcers and a 7.6 percent decrease in incontinence, as reported in both of the articles of the articles.

“This study empirically demonstrates that better work relationships between staff, as measured by staff cohesion, are associated with better outcomes for nursing home residents,” said Temkin-Greener

The Telegram and Gazette reported that a Webster, Massachusetts nursing home social worker has been charged with stealing over $13,000 from a 93-year old WWII veteran and civilian prisoner of war.  How could anyone do that?

Monica L. Zicius allegedly visited the victim at home and falsely told him that he owed money for his wife’s care.  When the victim discovered that two checks to Ms. Zicius had been withdrawn from his account he went to the nursing home where she worked with his bank statements.  He attempted to show the staff at the facility the statements but Zicius cornered him at the end of a hallways and tried to forcefully seize the bank statements from him. The police also discovered that Zicius also forged a letter from a Boston Law firm informing the victim that he owed $10,000 in credit card debt and then had forged a check to make it look like she had paid the debt on behalf of the victim.

Zicius had really put the money in a bank account for her children saying, “Anyone would do what I did for their kids if they had the opportunity.”  Zicius has been charged with unarmed assault with intent to rob, forgery of a document, uttering a false document, larceny of more than $250, and two counts of both uttering a false check and forgery of a check.
 

An interesting article reported on Minnesota Public Radio that two nurses, at separate facilities, have both been accused of stealing pills from their residents. A nurse in Fairbault facility stole Percocet, while another nurse in Inver Grove Heights stole Oxycodone.  In both cases the perpetrators were reported to the state nursing board by their facility managers. A new law in Minnesota requires all state health licensing boards to investigate ways to make background checks for applicants and licensees more thorough.

Incidents like these truly exemplify the need for more stringent background check procedures so family can be more confident in the quality of staff they are trusting their loved ones with.

 

WSBT reported another arrest of two nursing home employees accused of stealing from a resident who was in the final days of her life. Alice Phillips and Kendra Echols were arrested and charged with multiple counts of fraud and forgery.  Maria Partin was a resident at the Liberty Village Nursing Home where they worked as Certified Nursing Assistants. 

Her family discovered $4,000 in small purchases on Partin’s bank statement. Muncie Police Detective Robert Scaife examined surveillance video from several Muncie stores where the purchases were made. He said the video showed Phillips and Echols buying all kinds of things.

 

In the article Criminals in Nursing Homes, it was stated that federal data had found up to 90 percent of all nursing homes employ people who have been convicted of at least one crime.   A nursing home should be a safe environment for its residents and ensure that they are in a facility that will tend to their needs and ensure they live a comfortable life. Sadly, for millions of nursing home residents, nursing home abuse and neglect at the hands of criminal employees is a reality.

There are several indications that nursing home abuse or neglect has taken place. Some of these signs are physical in nature such as unexplained bruises, broken bones, or skin tears and cuts. Others will be emotional such as aggravation, depression, and unusual behaviors.  These are typically the result of inadequate staff to care for its residents or violent predators who have been hired by a nursing home inflicting intentional harm on your loved one.

We need a nationwide standard requiring nursing homes to conduct a criminal background check and not to hire those with records for any violent behavior or drug abuse.

The Star-Tribune out of Minnesota reported the tragic rape and sexual assault of a female resident at Highland Chateau Care Center over a period of months by a staff member, according to a state investigative report. The abuse included forcing the woman to perform oral sex and fondling of her breasts.

According to the report, which did not reveal the identities of the staff member or the resident:
–The resident had limited mobility and needed help dressing, bathing and with her bathroom needs.
–When confronted by a state investigator, the staff member denied the allegations, saying the woman would at times not make sense and was under the impression he would marry her.  However, other staff members described the woman as "alert and oriented." One said the woman told her "she just wanted it over," the report said.
When interviewed, the accused staffer also was confronted about allegations of neglect and physical abuse at other care facilities where he had worked.   In one previous case, the staffer failed to cooperate with an investigation of "sexually inappropriate" behavior.
–Despite the allegations of earlier misconduct, the Health Department initiated no other investigations against the caregiver.

Oklahoma’s Aden Evening News on Officer.com reported that thousands of pain pills are missing from Calloway Nursing Home. Police have launched an investigation.  Between 2,000 and 3,000 Lortab pills were discovered missing during a routine state audit.  Why didn’t the nursing home know it was missing the narcotics? 

Several employees are suspected of stealing and distributing the drug, but no employees have been arrested.

 

The New York Times had a great article written by Paula Span about the many benefits of nonprofit nursing homes.  Her article discussed a recent study in The Gerontologist that showed employees of nonprofits are happier at their jobs than those at national for profit chains.

"For years, researchers have reported that ownership status is one of the factors related to quality care. “Most studies show that nonprofits do a better job of caring for patients,” said JiSun Choi, a postdoctoral fellow in nursing and long-term care at the University of Kansas Medical Center School of Nursing. “But we’re not sure why that happens.”

A nonprofit nursing home doesn’t have to worry about paying shareholders dividends or keeping stock prices high. But we also know that staff members’ feelings about their jobs appear to play a significant mediating role. Past studies have shown that in commercially operated homes, for instance, the certified nursing assistants who provide the bulk of the hands-on care are less satisfied with their jobs than those in nonprofits. Directors of nursing in commercial homes are less satisfied as well, and more likely to be planning to leave. In general, such homes are associated with higher — in some cases, shockingly high — staff turnover.

 

Cleveland.com reported that a former nursing home worker was indicted Oct. 20 after a detective investigating thefts from elderly residents found her using one of the stolen credit cards at a Cleveland bingo parlor.  Gwendolyn Brice faces multiple charges including identity theft, after an officer showed her photo to a bingo worker on Oct. 12, who told him she was in the building — then gave him the name on the stolen credit card she had used that night to purchase $140 worth of bingo cards and supplies that night.

The detective had already noticed the suspect standing in line purchasing materials and knew it was the name of one of what may be multiple victims, as the investigation continues after her Oct. 13 arrest and subsequent grand jury indictment. Brice had access to the residents’ rooms and was employed at Hamlet Hills nursing home for 10 months.