Group Home Abuse Lawyers in Phoenix
Ideally, group homes are places where people with disabilities can live in a family-like setting and have their needs met. Placing your loved one in such an environment is an act of great trust in the homes and the staff. Afterall, group home residents are in an incredibly vulnerable position. It is the duty of a group home’s staff to make sure your loved one is safe, getting the special care he or she needs. This can include supervising activities, feeding, administering medication, transporting to doctor’s appointments, and more. Sadly, there have been documented cases of neglect and abuse in Arizona group homes, including a recent case where an autistic boy was punched and kicked by a staff member in Mesa.
If you suspect that a loved one has been mistreated while in assistive care, you owe it to them to contact a compassionate attorney. The Husband and Wife Law Team at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., has been fighting for the rights of those with special needs since 1996. Let us put our experience and skill to work on your loved one’s case. Call (602) 457-6222 for a free consultation with a Phoenix personal injury attorney.
In Arizona, a group home is usually defined as a place of residence for at least six developmentally disabled people. These facilities must be licensed by the state and meet basic requirements, such as having electricity, running water, and an accessible telephone. Each resident must have his or her own bedroom, and the hallways, doors, and walkways need to be wide enough to accommodate residents covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The group home’s license must be renewed every two to three years and be displayed in a common area at all times.
When most people hear the word “abuse” they think of physical abuse. Oftentimes our society views the act of hitting another person as the only legitimate form of abuse. However, the truth is that there are many ways that a person can be abused. Knowing these different forms of abuse can help you keep an eye out for any signs of danger.
Physical abuse: Again, this is the kind of abuse that most people are already familiar with: striking, slapping, punching, kicking, or otherwise hurting another person. This kind of abuse is among the easiest to spot because it usually leaves behind physical marks, such as bruises, cuts, burns, and so on.
Sexual abuse: Sadly, sexual abuse is common in facilities like group homes. Staff will harass and assault residents, forcing them to perform sexual acts without consent. If you notice bruises or bleeding on and around your loved one’s inner thighs, or notice that they seem withdrawn, depressed, or anxious, then it is possible that they have suffered sexual abuse.
Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse can be difficult to spot, as it leaves no marks. Usually, it involves belittling, screaming at, insulting, or threatening another person. Watch for sudden changes in personality in your loved one. Are they more quiet and withdrawn? Do they seem nervous, or show signs of self-hatred? Do they avoid one staff member in particular?
Financial abuse: Residents in group homes often rely on staff members, which means these staff members have access to rooms, bags, and purses. It is easy for them to steal credit cards, wallets, and checkbooks in order to abuse residents finically. Be sure to check your loved one’s bank account regularly and ask them about any discrepancies you may notice.
On top of the types of abuse, there are other dangers that can negatively impact group homes residents. These dangers can come at the hands of a caregiver, a visitor, or even another resident.
- Caregiver Neglect: When visiting a loved one at a group home, you should be on the lookout for signs of neglect, including the development of pressure sores (bedsores), evidence of malnutrition and dehydration, overmedication, poor hygiene, withdrawal, or depression. It is possible for a resident to self-neglect, meaning that while they are capable of taking care of themselves to a certain extent, they do not do so. Staff at group homes should always keep an eye on residents to make sure they are not neglecting to take care of themselves, and step in if they are.
- Poor Supervision: You should also be aware of how closely residents are supervised. Elopement (wandering or running away from a facility) is often the result of inadequate supervision. Self-neglect can also come as a result of poor supervision. While group homes are meant to only have six residents, there may still be times when staff do not provide adequate supervision. That can result in severe injuries or illness.
- Resident-on-Resident Abuse: You should also be aware of how closely residents are supervised. Elopement (wandering or running away from a facility) is often the result of inadequate supervision. Lack of supervision can also result in falls and other accidents, as well as bullying and abuse by other residents. It is the responsibility of the group home to keep aggressive residents from harming others, both physically and emotionally.
You should also keep an eye out for unsanitary conditions. Because many people who reside in group homes have health issues, maintaining a clean environment can help prevent infections and the spread of disease. If your loved one develops an illness that could have been prevented, you have a legal case for compensation.
In a perfect world, there would be no abuse. In an ideal world, abusers would never be granted access to vulnerable people. Sadly, some staffers in group homes choose the job specifically because it is easy to victimize residents. Why?
Mental disabilities: Group homes are designed to take care of developmentally disabled individuals and provide them with the support they need to live a normal life. However, these mental disabilities are exactly what makes group homes targets for abusers. Adults with extreme mental disabilities may not be able to communicate with others easily, which means they are unable to report the abuse or the abuser.
Physical disabilities: Residents of group homes may also have physical disabilities to contend with. These disabilities make it difficult for them to fight back, run away, or make enough sound to alert others that something is wrong. This makes it easy for abusers to hurt residents and not be reported.
Memory issues: Some mental disabilities present themselves with memory issues. This means that a resident could be abused, but not actually remember the abuse itself. This makes him or her a particularly easy target for abusers, as there is little chance of a resident reporting something that he or she doesn’t remember.
No proper reporting system: While many group homes implement proper reporting protocols, others do not. In homes without an abuse reporting system, abuse often flies under the radar, because residents are unable to get help. Abusers will often target these homes, knowing they will be able to get away with whatever they want without repercussions.
There is nothing more horrifying than handing a loved one over to a group home, and then realizing that that loved one had been abused. We expect homes to take care of their residents, but without proper reporting systems, it is all too easy for staff to get away with acts of incredible cruelty. If your loved one has been abused by a group home staff member, then you need immediate legal assistance.
Vulnerable adults should never be subjected to mistreatment—especially by those entrusted with their care for money.
If you suspect a loved one is being abused or neglected at an assisted living facility, you owe it to them to see that they are removed from harm’s way. You also owe it to them to get financial compensation for the poor care and the costs that accompany it. The seasoned legal team at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., can investigate your case, determine who is to blame, and represent you in a personal injury claim for no upfront cost. We’ll go to work to get justice for your family. Call (602) 457-6222 for a free case evaluation.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer