An Oklahoma woman has been charged with 17 different counts of elder abuse. Robyn McKinney owns and operates Branding Brook, an assisted-care living facility in Vinita, Oklahoma. The facility specializes in caring for patients with extreme limitations or disabilities. Due to the extreme nature of many of the patients’ disabilities, they are unable to communicate or move effectively, essentially rendering them helpless and completely reliant on McKinney and her staff to take care of them.
This makes it all the more unsettling to hear reports that McKinney had been abusing these residents for years. McKinney, who was responsible for keeping track of residents’ finances and medications, had been psychologically and physically abusing residents by withholding their money and verbally attacking them, according to complaints made by residents. Reports further claim that McKinney had even put a padlock on the facility’s refrigerator. This knowledge comes at the heels of a 911 call placed by someone who reportedly witnessed McKinney attack and bite a resident on the nose.
One of the only ways to stop nursing home abuse from happening is to report it. Reporting can come from a resident, a resident’s family member, or an employee who witnessed the abuse or neglect of a patient. Reporting nursing home negligence is critical because it only becomes more of a problem the longer it is allowed to continue. Unfortunately, facilities that neglect patients continue to operate daily. Elder abuse is all too prevalent and often underreported. A study found that 30% of nursing homes in the United States were cited for almost 9,000 instances of abuse over a two-year period. This same study also found that the percentage of nursing homes cited for abuse has increased every year since 1996.
Nursing home industry representatives attribute abuse, in part, to the difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified staff members. Part of the problem is that most of the funds contributed to facilities come from the Federal government, and while this helps, more is needed to provide proper care. Qualified caregivers are hard to come by, and there are not enough people entering the field, as some feel wages are low for the type of work and expectations of the job. To make matters worse, many caregivers who are employed are often stressed and overworked, which can lead to abuse when they take their frustration out on patients.
Regardless of the reason, elder abuse should never occur, and it is a troubling trend that continues to grow. According to a recent US Census, there are now more adults over the age of 65 than in any other year the census was taken. That number is expected to grow in the coming years. Unless a significant change is made, there will be more elderly adults in nursing homes than ever before, at a period in time where the cases of nursing home abuse continue to grow yearly. If these trends hold, the United States will encounter a vast growth in elder abuse and nursing home neglect. If one of your loved ones has been abused or harmed by a nursing home employee, call the Tennessee nursing home abuse lawyers at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz today at 1-800-529-4004.
Luckily, there are organizations operating with the sole goal of ending elder abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse is dedicated to preventing elder abuse by educating the public. Their website is full of resources aimed at ending the growing trend of abuse in nursing homes. This link directs the viewer to the resources of the state of Tennessee, including the address and phone number to report abuse, relevant state regulations, and other useful information to help educate the reader on the rights of a nursing home resident.