Lawsuits for Abuse and Negligence by Home Health Aides
The service of a home health aide enables over 800,000 Americans to continue to live at home, rather than in an institution, when they are disabled, elderly and/or frail. Most home health aides are diligent providers of personal service, but there are a rising number of aides that are abusing, neglecting and/or stealing from the people they are entrusted to care for. A recent report issued by Franchise Business Review cites home care agencies as one of the top five most profitable businesses in the United States and the industry is growing rapidly, causing a tremendous demand for workers to fill vacancies. When agencies cut corners on screening, training and monitoring the home health aides they send into people’s homes, they can be held liable and required to pay compensation to victims of abuse, neglect and theft. If you or somebody you love has been abused, neglected or robbed by a home health aide that’s been hired through an agency, it’s important to speak to an experienced New York City home health aide abuse attorney as soon as possible to determine whether there’s a viable claim. Call (212) 203-9300 for a free consultation to find out whether you’re entitled to compensation.
It is important that families that utilize home health aides remain vigilant in monitoring the care of their loved ones to prevent abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, even the most loving family members often have professional and family responsibilities that don’t allow them to visit as often as they’d like, opening the door to abuse and neglect by improperly trained or unscrupulous home health aides. These are some of the common types of abuse and neglect by home health aides:
- Financial Abuse: The most common type of abuse by home health aides is financial and it comes in many forms. It is relatively easy for an aide to gain access to an elderly or disabled person’s computers, mail and other financial information, putting them in a unique position to engage in fraudulent financial actions such as skimming cash from their wallet, using their credit card to buy things for themselves, withdrawing money with their debit card and forging signatures on checks. Elderly patients are especially vulnerable because they may require assistance with modern financial technology from their home health aides. It’s becoming increasingly common for home health aides to use a patient’s phone, tablet or computer to transfer money into their own account. Another type of financial abuse is when home health aides trick or use undue influence to get their charges to include them in their Will, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, deeds and other financial documents.
- Emotional Abuse: Sometimes financial abuse goes hand in hand with emotional abuse, such as withholding meals or other services unless financial conditions are met. Patients that don’t have local family are especially vulnerable to this type of abuse. In some cases emotional abuse is caused by the inability of an aide to control their emotions and frustrations, leading to bullying, intimidation, yelling, ignoring and even isolating a person dependent on their services to survive.
- Physical Abuse: Physical abuse can occur alongside financial abuse or on it’s own due to the psychiatric problems of a particular home health aide.
- Neglect: Sometimes home health aides show up, but do not perform their duties in whole or in part due to inexperience, fatigue, distractions or laziness. These are some examples of neglect:
- Failure to provide proper nutrition or failure to feed at all;
- Failure to provide medication in correct doses and on time;
- Lack of or insufficient hygiene services;
- Dirty home infested with insects and roaches;
- Failure to provide companionship and emotional support and
- Sleeping on the job.
Some home health aides work try to maximize their income by booking themselves around the clock, causing their patients to be neglected. If you or somebody you care about has been abused or neglected by a home health aide, it may be possible to collect compensation.
Abuse by home health aides can be difficult to detect because the services are performed at the patient’s home are not supervised. These are some red flags that something may be amiss:
- Changes in behavior such as withdrawal or agitation;
- Less contact with family members and friends;
- Odd financial transactions and purchases;
- Changing estate lawyers or redoing a Will;
- Weight loss, dry skin or other signs of poor nutrition or hygiene;
- Unexplained falls, burns or other accidents and
- Physical signs of abuse such as bruises.
In some cases the person receiving care is afraid to report the abuse and neglect for fear of retaliation or they suffer from dementia or another type of disability that impacts their understanding/memory. One solution is to install video cameras known as “nanny cams” to monitor the home while the home health aide is on duty.
Is it Legal to Install a Cammera to Monitor on a Health Aide?
It is legal to install a video surveillance without audio in all fifty states, but it’s important to remember that some states prohibit surveillance in private places such as bathrooms or the bedroom of a live in aide. Some states allow surveillance, but require that you notify the home health aide that you’re installing a camera. Thirty eight states and the District of Columbia allow the recording of a conversation with the permission of one party. If you suspect abuse and neglect by a home health aide, it’s important to contact an experienced New York City home health aide abuse attorney that can make sure that you meet state requirements for surveillance.
If you or somebody you love has been abused or neglected by a home health aide, it’s important to investigate the matter promptly to prevent further harm and to acquire the evidence needed to successfully make a claim. Call (212) 203-9300 for a free consultation to find out whether you’re entitled to compensation.