The New York Times recently explored the growing phenomenon of adult day care centers, which have been cropping up all over the country in recent years.
Our Wellington nursing home abuse attorneys know that while these centers may not be as rife with mistreatment as those facilities where individuals are reliant on staff to meet all of their daily and nightly needs, people who frequent these centers may still be vulnerable.
A recent case out of Texas illustrates the concerns. In Corpus Christi, the former owner of an adult daycare center was recently sentenced to four years in prison for abuse of her elderly clients. The 69-year-old defendant was convicted on charges of abusing the elderly and assault. She had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison.
According to media reports, state authorities had shut down the center amid claims that mistreatment was occurring. Among the bizarre accusations that led to her conviction were that she placed bags of feces and urine around the necks of patients.
She would later argue that this was a form of “sensory therapy” that was intended to help remind individuals to use the restroom. However, medical professionals who have worked in geriatrics for years testified that such practice had no place in medicine and in fact, was nothing more than a form of cruelty.
We may be seeing more of these kinds of cases as adult day cares continue to proliferate with the ongoing aging of the baby boom generation. Already, we have seen aggressive marketing in this arena.
In the first three quarters of last year, these centers collectively raked in about $25 million. Rates typically average anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 monthly, just depending on type of care and the frequency of attendance.
There are concerns, however, that because these facilities are often funded by federal dollars through Medicaid, they have incentives to set low eligibility standards – decisions that aren’t overseen by the government. Beneficiaries are supposed to need at least four months of assistance with things like walking, bathing or taking their medications.
While the case out of Texas involves an extreme example, the list of concerns and risks for patients of an elderly day care center are much the same as they would be for someone in a nursing home.
Among those are abuse, neglect, negligence and communicable disease.
With abuse, it could be direct physical abuse, such as slaps or punches, burns or cuts. There could be financial abuse if staffers somehow gain access to a client’s credit card or bank accounts. There might also be psychological abuse in the form of intimidation, isolation, humiliation or verbal insults.
In terms of neglect or negligence, bear in mind that those attending adult day care facilities usually need help with basic daily needs. If the staff isn’t properly trained or fails to act on those needs, it can lead to conditions including sores, rashes, malnutrition and dehydration.
Communicable diseases are also a big concern. You have of course the obvious colds, flu viruses and even measles. It becomes a greater problem when staff fail to become vaccinated or properly clean themselves, the facility or food products. While it may mean a brief illness for a younger staff member, the flu could mean a hospital stay or even death for an older, more frail patient.
The one piece of good news is that those who attend these adult day care centers are more likely than those living in nursing homes to be seen daily, or at least regularly, by loved ones. That means they may be more likely to pick up on key abuse or neglect indicators.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Day Centers Sprout Up, Luring Fit Elders and Costing Medicaid, April 22, 2013, By Nina Bernstein, The New York Times
More Blog Entries:
Nursing Home Abuse Reported at Chain With Florida Ties, April 25, 2013, Wellington Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog