GEORGIA PERSONAL CARE HOMES UNDER INVESTIGATION
A sad detail in the news recently involves the number of personal care homes run by thieves preying upon the disabled population. Personal care homes are a hybrid of a home and an assisted living facility. An Individual homeowner cares for a small number of aging or disabled individuals in their personal home. The individual and their staff provide shelter, hygiene assistance, food and medical assistance (mostly in the form of administering prescription drugs). Many disabled or elderly individuals chose this over assisted living facilities for cost reasons.
While many do go into this field with a strong heart and good intentions, some bad apples lurk in the midst and perform this function solely to take advantage of the elderly and disabled and milk them of their disability checks.
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution in a series of investigative pieces opined that Georgia “hasn’t done enough to rein in an ‘epidemic’ of mistreatment of vulnerable people by personal care home operators.” Growing demand for personal care homes combined with limited state oversight allows for some unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of the elderly, the disabled, and the developmentally disabled who rely on assistance for their daily needs.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) director Vernon Keenan calls the maltreatment of at-risk adults “epidemic.” Recently, some personal care home operators were found to house the disabled in deplorable living conditions while cashing their disability checks for their own use. Thus, leaving the disabled person stranded both physically and financially. Some of the disabled individuals were living in a vacant house with nothing but fast food and a cell phone.
On July 1, 2012 a new law went into effect that stiffened the penalties for operating a personal care home without a license. The new law makes it a criminal offense to operate an unlicensed personal care home. Repeated violations of this will result in a felony charge. The new law also grants the GBI the authority to investigate these claims. These personal care homes avoid any oversight by state regulators by failing to obtain a license. Today, there are more than 900 personal care homes in metro Atlanta.
To report abuse of an elderly or disabled individual living in a personal care home, contact Healthcare Facility Regulation at 1 800 878 6442.