California nursing homes are facilities where our seniors should be safe. Unfortunately, many of the nursing homes in our state abuse their residents. Nursing home abuse can be physical in nature or it could involve staff stealing property, money or checks. Elder abuse laws in California are designed to protect the elderly from physical, mental and financial abuse.
It is estimated that 5 million elderly Americans are victims of some type of financial abuse or financial exploitation each year and many of these cases take place inside nursing homes. Financial abuse or financial exploitation as it is also called can occur when a nursing home staff steals a resident’s personal property, money or checks or when staff steals information in order to withdraw money from the resident’s bank account. This type of exploitation can also take place when false fees or charges are made to the resident that carry a significant loss.
Why This Type of Abuse is so Common
Nursing home residents make attractive targets for underhanded thieves as often times residents of nursing homes are functionally disabled or cognitively impaired wherein they cannot keep track of their belongings and money.
Primary care staff working in nursing homes are often times poorly paid and over-worked. It is common for a staff person to think that they somehow “deserve” to own the belongings of a resident because they feel they are not being paid well enough or that they are being over-worked. A staff member could also be inclined to steal from a resident he or she has had a conflict with.
Because nursing home residents are often out of their rooms when eating, socializing and while taking part in activities, thieves are given the opportunity to easily gain access to the property and money the residents have in their rooms. It is common for a thief to tell themselves that the resident they are stealing from will not even realize that the property or money is gone due to that resident’s mental state.
When nursing home theft takes place, it is not uncommon for administrators to deny or ignore the theft as they do not want to believe that the people they hired are capable of committing these crimes. An administrative staff may also choose to ignore theft due to them feeling responsible in some way. For instance, a nursing home that fails to conduct thorough background checks before hiring may feel responsible for thievery that is taking place inside their facility wherein they either downplay it or outright deny it’s taking place.
There are some indicators that can warn you that your loved one may be a victim of financial abuse and they are:
- Recent, unexplained frequent withdrawals from a bank account
- Personal property that appears to be missing such as money, jewelry, electronics, clothing, etc.
- Recent revisions to deeds or wills
- New loans that your loved one could have obtained
- Changes in your loved one’s behavior that may indicate he/she is being threatened
If you notice any of the above, it is important that you take action without delay. If possible, ask other residents or visitors you trust if they’ve notice anything out of the ordinary. You might want to consider making arrangements to have your loved one moved to another facility. You also should speak to the director of the facility to express your concerns and let them know about your suspicions. The local police should be contacted as well so that an official report is filed. You also should get in touch with a nursing home abuse attorney.
An experienced California attorney who has handled many nursing home abuse cases will take the time to listen to what you have to say. He or she will then advise you as to what actions need taken that will put an end to the financial abuse. It is very possible that your suspicions are correct as sadly this type of exploitation runs rampant in California nursing homes as well as in these facilities located all across the United States.
When nursing home staff take advantage of the often very vulnerable residents they are being paid to care for by stealing their property, money or checks, the rest of us are left speechless, angry and very upset. There is nothing worse than seeing a loved one being taken advantage of by a ruthless, uncaring person who was supposed to be caring for that person.
What You Can Do About Theft
There are some things you can do about nursing home theft and loss which includes:
- Make sure old and new items are recorded in the inventory
- Take photographs of your loved one’s belongings
- Keep copies of all receipts for any items purchased and taken to the resident
- Purchase locks for drawers and cabinets and only give keys to the administrator and resident’s representative
- Immediately report any loss or suspicious theft to the facility director, local ombudsman and licensing department
- Contact an attorney
The attorneys at Hogan Injury are passionate about stopping nursing home abuse. We have the experience, know-how and drive to get to the bottom of what has happened so that those individuals responsible for the financial exploitation of your loved ones are held accountable under law. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.