Common Causes of Group Home Injuries

Group homes are places where those with physical, emotional or psychological problems should be able to live in the community safely. They don’t provide the same level of medical care as a nursing home or hospital, but residents depend on staff to maintain their health and safety. All too often, group homes act negligently and residents are injured, sometimes seriously, leading to permanent limitations or death.

If a loved one has been injured in a Maryland group home due to the negligence of another, the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg can help.

Children and adults with conditions severe enough that they can’t live by themselves or with their own families can be highly vulnerable to injury if they live in a group home that doesn’t provide appropriate care and protection. Common problems that arise can include:

  • Choking hazards
  • Inappropriate placements, resulting in violence between residents
  • Poor training or negligent hiring of staff
  • Inadequate supervision of residents and staff
  • Medication errors, including overmedication
  • Improper use of physical and chemical restraints
  • Physical and sexual abuse by staff members.
  • Dehydration and malnutrition

Many of these problems arise in poorly managed, poorly funded, understaffed group homes where employees are more likely to exhibit these characteristics:

  • Indifference to the needs of residents
  • Frustration with their own situation, which they take out on residents
  • Good intentions, which are outweighed by the workload
  • Criminals who while working for a group home physically or sexually assault residents.
  • Improper allocation of group home budget and resident resources

Management of group homes where injuries take place may mean well but fall short by trying to do too much with too few resources; some, however, are simply uncaring and see resident injuries as inevitable and not preventable. Given high employee turnover, management may be resistant to firing negligent or violent employees who cause harm to residents.

Repairs and improvements to the home and purchase of proper equipment may be seen as expenses that don’t fit into a group home’s budget.

Though group homes are supposed to be regulated by the state, the reality is that many group homes violate laws and regulations and endanger residents. The Baltimore Sun investigated Second Family, a Prince George’s County nonprofit that was Maryland’s largest contractor for such care in 2014. In a series of articles, they reported:

  • Neglect and abuse incidents that resulted in three employees being fired in 2014. Two of them hit and kicked a mute, autistic child, according to a state inspection report.
  • In June of 2014, the state allowed Second Family to boost salaries of employees, with the biggest raises going to three top executives, while spending on food, clothing and other personal expenses for disabled foster children decreased to a point that was below state guidelines for some expenses.
  • State inspection reports in 2011, 2012 and 2014 show 118 citations for breaching state rules covering a range of issues. Second Family couldn’t show that employees were trained in “approved forms of discipline,” and in 2012 it failed to report an “abuse/neglect” incident that resulted in an emergency room visit for a “severe injury.” Inspectors cited Second Family in 2014 for not making sure that “all medicine which is prescribed by a doctor is always available.”

The newspaper also found serious problems with what was Maryland’s second largest provider of group homes, LifeLine. Problems at its locations included inadequate medical care, a founder who was imprisoned for arson, unpaid taxes, and police reports of abuse and neglect unknown to state regulators.

If you have a loved one in a group home, there are steps you can take to try to discourage negligence or abuse — or at least detect it if it occurs.

  • If your loved one requires personal 24/7 supervision in the same room, make sure the group home manager knows that and the person understands this goes beyond just the presence of a caretaker in the same building. Ensure the correct level of supervision is written into the Individual Service Plan. Most funding agreements require one on one supervision.
  • When necessary, request specific safety measures and follow up to make sure they are provided. These measures can include help with walking, eating, bathing and toileting; alarms to prevent wandering off; video cameras to monitor safety; and proper administration of prescribed medication and therapies.
  • If your family member has difficulty communicating, remain vigilant to possible problems; visit as often as you can so you will notice when something isn’t right. If you sense a problem, ask questions and demand an explanation.
  • Show up unannounced. Read your loved one’s file. If you notice an injury or see something unusual, demand an incident report explaining what happened, the names of those involved, and the steps to be taken to prevent a re-occurrence in the future.
  • Make sure assessments and care plans are up-to-date and being properly implemented.

The Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg has successfully handled numerous serious injuries and death cases which have occurred in group homes for the developmentally disabled. Unlike litigation for medical, nursing or assisted living malpractice, these facilities operate under specific provisions of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). Knowledge of these regulations is essential to the successful outcome of a case.

If your family member has been injured or killed while living in a Maryland group home and you believe the incident may have been caused by abuse, neglect or negligence, contact our office. We can discuss the situation, the applicable laws and the legal options for obtaining compensation for the injuries or death.  At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through difficult times caused by group home negligence and abuse. Call 1-866-529-5839 today to schedule a free consultation.

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