Reports of Abuse of Washington’s Vulnerable Residents Go Unheeded

The final month of 2012 has seen two disturbing discoveries of abuse to the most vulnerable among us. In South Carolina, a nursing home employee was arrested after allegedly abusing and sexually assaulting a 101-year-old man. The victim told his granddaughter about the nursing home abuse, leading to video evidence and the eventual arrest of Desmond Kimbrough.

The second report comes out of our own Washington state. Washington’s disabled residents who live in supported care facilities are being abused, and the state is not doing its duty as their protector, according to Disability Rights Washington (DRW).

While looking through state files, DRW found more than 1,000 cases of alleged abuse or neglect that had never been properly investigated by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

Both of these cases represent horrific treatment of vulnerable populations. The elderly and the disabled who must depend on care from caregivers should be treated with respect, but somehow some who chose to work with them find it OK to cause them harm.

Medication Mayhem

Washington residents and twin brothers Bill and Wayne Lakin are severely autistic and have never been able to live on their own. They depend on caregivers to give them their
medication. The Seattle Times reports that both brothers have been given wrong doses of medication with devastating results. In 2007, Bill was given an overdose of medication that caused brain damage. Before his injury, his brother Jim says that long walks gave him
great pleasure. After his injury he could barely shuffle along with a walker and spent most
of his time in a wheelchair. In 2011, Wayne was given a double dose of insulin, which can cause seizures or even death. Fortunately, Wayne survived. Although the state viewed that overdose as an isolated incident, Wayne’s medication log revealed that 13 errors occurred over just a 12-month period.

Limited Resources

The DSHS has only 15 abuse investigators for 3,000 Washington residents with disabilities living in supported-care facilities. Half of these employees also deal with complaints from nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family homes. A lack of manpower, combined with a hesitance to fine or close down one of the few supported living homes, has led to unaddressed abuse and neglect.

Advocates are the Key

The 101-year-old man in South Carolina has gone through a terrible ordeal. He was fortunate, however, that he was able to communicate with his granddaughter, who took action to protect him. The DRW has revealed a flaw in the Washington system that all advocates of vulnerable adults should know. Filing a complaint may not be enough.

Contact Us

If you know some one who has been a victim of abuse or neglect in a care facility such as a supported care home or nursing home, please contact us immediately. You may be eligible for compensation. We provide a free consolation with one of our experienced and compassionate attorneys.