An investigation recently conducted by the Augusta Chronicle has concluded that although hundreds of Georgians live in personal care homes, no state law is in place to protect these people from abuse.
The state has enacted a variety of legislation to protect at risk-adults, including laws that:
- Prohibit the exploitation of elderly or disabled adults.
- Make aggravated cruelty to an elderly adult a crime.
- Forbid abuse and neglect of an elderly or disabled person.
However, no laws exist in Georgia to regulate personal care home owners or employees, and these individuals have rarely faced criminal charges for abusing or neglecting residents. While at least two homes in Augusta have been cited in the past three years for having a felon working at the homes and many others have been cited repeatedly for allowing untrained staff to administer medications and injections, none of the homes lost state certification and all remain open.
What are Personal Care Homes?
Personal care homes are residences that provide shelter, meals, supervision, and assistance to older people or those with physical, behavioral, or cognitive disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves, but do not need nursing home or medical care. The services that personal care homes provide include the supervision of self-administered medication, assistance with ambulation and transfer, and help with activities including eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, the personal hygiene.
Georgia recently began to require skilled nursing homes to have insurance, but without a set minimum amount. However personal care homes are not required to have any liability insurance whatsoever to gain licensure by the state. If law enforcement is unable to control the problem and enforce competency, individuals who suffer harm in personal care homes are left with litigation, which is expensive and does not guarantee recovery.
Georgia nursing home residents are likely not faring any better than those in personal care homes. According to the Atlanta Journal, about one in four nursing homes in Georgia received the lowest rating, a one star, in the latest federal quality rankings of long-term case facilities in the U.S.