Our Atlanta nursing home abuse attorneys know that some of our most vulnerable citizens are adults who–because of disability, age or both–need assistance in a personal care or nursing home. More alarm bells are now being raised regarding unlicensed homes that provide this sort of care. Unlicensed homes are hard for the state to track because they don’t get inspected. Personal care homes are particularly vulnerable, because unlike nursing homes, they do not provide medical care directly, so they often look like normal homes in residential neighborhoods.
Personal care homes must be licensed by the state and regularly inspected by Georgia’s Department of Community Health. But as costs have spiralled and many can’t afford the kind of care provided at regulated and licensed homes, a grey economy of unlicensed homes has popped up, with perhaps hundreds around the state of Georgia. It is not a problem Georgia faces alone.
Mary Twomey, co-director of the National Center for Elder Abuse, says these underground facilities are in many states, and that “These can be some of the most invisible citizens.” These unlicensed places are cheaper, but they are also shabbier and provide sub-par services. They sometimes devolve into nightmarish situations. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been doing investigative work on this subject, and has uncovered instances of cruel abuse and neglect. They have found cases of residents being beaten with belts and burned with curling irons, kept in basements with buckets for toilets, robbed of their public assistance or pension checks, and shuffled between homes to hide from the law. The penalties for being discovered by law enforcement were paltry to the point of being useless. The operators of these places would simply be given a month or two to get a license by the state.
A new Georgia law that goes into effect on July 1 will hopefully provide law enforcement with the tools to shut down these illegal unlicensed homes. This new law criminalizes the running of an unlicensed home, the first offense being a misdemeanor and the second a felony. The state can also immediately impose fines on these operators. The new law also empowers the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate unlicensed personal care homes.
There are still problems to overcome, though, as it is unclear if the GBI does not have sufficient manpower or resources to devote to this task. Our Atlanta elder abuse lawyers understand that this makes it even more important for private citizens to stand up and demand accountability.
When a disabled or elderly loved one is in these kinds of conditions, it can affect the whole family. If an adult care home negligently caused illness, injury, or death to a loved one, that home can be made to pay. If you suspect personal care or nursing home neglect, the Georgia personal injury attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter are available to assist with investigating these problems and determining future legal steps. Often this is the best way to get compensation and these lawsuits also deter future abuses. Please call us at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.
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