Although it is unfortunate that it is necessary, it is great to know that authorities are working hard to protect the elderly from abuse. If you are a resident of New Jersey, or you have an older loved one who is, you will be pleased to hear about actions taken recently that will make the state safer for seniors. Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs elaborated on the actions taken recently to help protect the elderly from abuse and neglect.
New Jersey Takes Action to Protect the Elderly
According to news reports, the Division’s Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”) issued Notices of Violation (“NOVs”) against six health care service firms seeking a total of $57,700 in civil penalties for alleged violations of the statutes and regulations governing firms that place caregivers in the homes of senior citizens and the disabled who need their services. The violations cited against the firms range from improper record keeping and failure to establish a patient Plan of Care, to failing to properly verify the license status of each home care provider and failing to register with the Division as a health care service firm. The State also filed a Complaint with the New Jersey State Board of Nursing seeking to revoke the nursing license and homemaker-home health aide certification of a Sussex County woman who, while working as a Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aide, allegedly stole funds from one elderly patient and named herself the beneficiary of annuity policies belonging to another elderly patient.
“Home care providers spend long stretches alone with elderly and disabled individuals, many of whom are vulnerable and wholly dependent on their caregivers. It is imperative that they, and the firms that place them, obey the rules and laws that help ensure the most vulnerable among us receive proper care,” said Attorney General Grewal.
“As our nation’s population ages and the home healthcare industry grows, so do concerns about the safety of the loved ones we entrust to their care,” said Acting Director Rodriguez. “The several actions announced today illustrate the Division’s vigilance in enforcing the laws and regulations pertaining to home care service firms and care providers. ”
Health care service firms are defined as businesses that “place or arrange for the placement of personnel to provide companion services, health care, or personal care services in the personal residence of a person with a disability or a senior citizen age 60 or older.” The firms must be registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs, and are inspected and investigated for compliance by the Office of Consumer Protection’s Health Care Service Firm Investigative Unit (“the Unit”).
The Unit’s investigators cover the entire State of New Jersey handling initial and follow up inspections of more than 1,100 health care service firms and undertaking investigations of those health care service firms that appear to be violating the law. The NOVs announced today are a result of inspections and investigations conducted by the Unit. The six health care service firms were assessed penalties ranging from $4,000 to $18,650 for a variety of alleged violations that fall into three categories:
- Patient Record Violations – such as no Plan of Care (“POC”) in a patient file, POC not established by an appropriately licensed person, failure to assess the POC every 30 or 60 days, and failure to ensure that the Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aide’s qualifications were properly matched to a patient’s needs.
- Caregiver Record Violations — such as failure to include a one-year employment history on an employment application, failure to include applicant’s license issuing authority or board on an employment application, and failure to include names of former supervisors on an employment application.
- Additional Miscellaneous Violations – such as failure to register with the Division of Consumer Affairs, failure to employ a licensed Health Care Practitioner Supervisor, failure to properly verify the license or certification status of each employed individual, and failure to inquire of all former employers listed on an employment application the reason for a caregiver’s departure.
Today the Division also announced a Complaint filed with the Board of Nursing seeking to revoke the nursing license of an LPN on the grounds that she fraudulently obtained a license by lying on her application in 2017. On the application, the woman responded ‘no’ to the question “Have you ever been named as a defendant in any litigation related to the practice of nursing or other professional practice in New Jersey, any other state, the District of Columbia, or in any other jurisdiction?” In fact, in 2014 the woman was named as a defendant in two civil lawsuits stemming from her employment as a Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aide in the home of two sisters, the Complaint asserts. The first suit alleged that while taking care of an elderly woman in hospice care, the LPN completed forms changing the beneficiaries on three life insurance annuities to name herself as beneficiary. The second lawsuit alleged that the LPN used a credit card belonging to 97-year-old patient to purchase more than $5,000 in merchandise for herself as well as using the patent’s checking account to pay more than $3,000 owed on her own credit card and withdrew $4,000 from the patient’s bank account after she was terminated –all without permission.
Contact a Woburn Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you are concerned that a loved one may be the victim of elder abuse, do not hesitate to contact a Woburn elder law attorney at DeBruyckere Law Offices to discuss your legal options by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.
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