A recent study has shown that a surprisingly large number of nursing home residents have fallen victim to having their money stolen by staff near them who are able to get a hold of the elderly residents’ financial information and access their accounts easily. This terrible situation is occurring all over the country at various nursing homes, and often times occurs when the nursing home’s bookkeepers and nursing home office managers (who family members of nursing home residents and the residents themselves should be able to place trust in) take the residents’ money or falsify billing to the residents accounts.
Family members of the victims of this form of nursing home abuse have spoken out with outrage and shock that anyone working so close with vulnerable and elderly adults could ever take advantage of their situation and steal from these residents. Families that may help pick out a facility for an elderly family member in cases where the person may not be able to decide on their own, and nursing home residents that pick out a nursing home for themselves, should all be able to feel confident that the residents are in good and safe hands and that all the staff at nursing homes always have the residents best interest in mind.
While this story would be disturbing at any level, it is especially upsetting that this study revealed that this terrible fraud is occurring at many nursing homes across the country. Since 2010, there have been over a hundred cases prosecuted in which a nursing home employee in some capacity was charged with stealing from the residents. This just accounts for the cases being prosecuted, so the numbers of unreported or unknown cases is likely much higher than this number. According to USA Today, when their investigative team looked into this issue they found that this nursing home fraud was likely occurring more than people may realize because of how easy it is for these employees to access and skim money off of the nursing home residents accounts without anyone realizing what is happening or that the money is gone.
An example of how this can happen is seen in the actions of a business office coordinator at a nursing home who recently pled guilty to 29 counts of exploitation. This guilty office coordinator admitted to going on shopping sprees and then expensing the items that he purchased to a resident, when in reality nothing that was purchased was for the benefit of any resident but was for his own benefit. Additionally, there are not strict auditing and follow-up requirements when it comes to monitoring nursing home residents’ accounts with respect to charges or withdrawals from nursing homes.
Many family members trust the nursing home staff where their loved one is living, and find ease in allowing the nursing home to control some money to help care for the resident. However, it is important to keep a watchful eye on all expenses charged by the nursing home. If you or a loved one feel they may have been exploited by a nursing home, and that there is money which is unaccounted for, please contact our office today to discuss what legal options may be available.