On Monday, the Chicago Tribune published an article spotlighting the abuse adults with developmental disabilities endure in some group homes. The article is difficult to read, with devastating details surrounding unexplained deaths in group homes. A resident is accused of stealing cookies and is beaten to death by his caregiver. A woman is left on the kitchen floor for hours with her head is wrapped in a blanket and her hands and feet duct taped together. Group home staff intentionally ridiculed residents to provoke outbursts for amusement. They called the game “breaking them”. Residents fatally choked on improperly prepared food or succumbed to untreated bedsores. Others were deprived of food, abandoned in soiled clothing and locked in rooms.
The article focuses on cases in Illinois, but the same stories of inhumane and unfathomable treatment happen nationwide. Developmentally disabled residents in Arizona group homes often rely on their caregivers to support them with every day necessities, like eating and drinking or hygiene. This is a scary realization for loved ones of the developmentally disabled. Caregivers often target residents with developmental disabilities who are not capable of telling someone about the abuse. This leaves it up to families to learn of the abuse and report it immediately.
We at Knapp & Roberts recommend three steps to take:
1- Create an Individual Support Plan (or Individual Service Plan). An ISP should involve a resident’s parents, group home staff, and a representative of the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). An ISP will assess a person with developmental disabilities needs and detail a care plan. This may include medication, hygiene, eating requirements, community exposure, etc… An important tip we at Knapp & Roberts have seen far too often: be more detailed than you may think is necessary.
An ISP holds a group home accountable if your loved one is not cared for properly. Writing “Food must be cut into bite-sized pieces” leaves too much at risk. A bite-size is different to everyone. You should be specific. For example: “Food must be cut into dime-sized pieces”. This protects your loved one legally and clearly communicates how he/she should be cared for.
2- Visit often and at random. Drop in on random days of the week and at different times. If you routinely visit every Saturday morning, caregivers will know when to expect you and could change behavior accordingly. Random drop-ins ensure the group home is operating as it should be.
3- Place a nanny cam in your loved one’s room that records footage. This allows you to check in often and if something happens, you’ll have the video to prove it.
Do you suspect your loved one has fallen victim to abuse or neglect in a group home? Contact the experienced group home abuse attorneys in Phoenix immediately at 480-991-7677. We’ll walk you through what steps to take. Remember: these cases tend to be very dependent on what you can prove. Document as much as you can about the wrongdoings. Take photos and write down details. Most importantly, arrange for a transfer of your loved one to another home as quickly as possible. Doing so could be a matter of life or death.
The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.