I-TEAM: Nursing home staff want to learn how to investigate elderly abuse like law enforcement

Published: Feb. 20, 2020 at 12:03 PM EST
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Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Nursing home staff are legally responsible for investigating claims of abuse and neglect.

However, they're not trained law enforcement officers and the federal government found nationwide many abuse and neglect claims are not investigated inside nursing homes.

Sixty local nursing home employees so far want help to learn how to spot and investigate neglect in their facility.

The I-Team has spent the last 10 months exposing allegations of neglect and abuse inside area nursing homes and a system which allows it to go unnoticed.

Nursing home staff are required by law to report potential abuse to state and federal agencies, but the Office of Inspector General found facilities don't always report it.

There's a lot of motivation for nursing homes not to report allegations of abuse and neglect.

In October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began displaying a consumer alert icon next to nursing homes that have been cited for incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Who is going to put their loved one in a home with an icon next to it?

To make matters worse in Georgia, coroners aren't even notified of deaths inside nursing homes.

"If someone dies in a nursing home, there is no secondary there is no checks and balances -- for the lack of a better word -- to make sure no foul play has occurred from all walks of life,” District Attorney Natalie Paine said.

Paine says local awareness is growing.

"It's a positive step this was a long time coming,” Paine said.

That awareness is also growing among nursing home staff, thanks to our reporting, Paine said.

It's a first. Nursing home administrators have called Paine’s office asking for help. They want to learn how to investigate like law enforcement.

"Basically, the training they are requesting is interview techniques -- also what to look for with prospective physical abuse or financial abuse,” Paine said.

Paine’s office will hold a first of its kind forensic training seminar for nursing home employees this spring.

“If they are going to self-investigate they need to be on par with what we would expect them to be,” Paine said.

"Anytime we can train people to do things better or spot abuse, obviously the main goal here is to protect and keep them safe, so this obviously offers us an opportunity to do that."

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