Saturday, January 16, 2016

Care workers jailed after patient dies in home


Lily Campbell
Two care workers have been jailed after lying to police about the death of a pensioner with dementia. 89 year old Lily Campbell was left dying at the Laburnum Court care home in Salford after she developed severe intestinal problems last October.

Manchester Crown Court has heard that Abdul Khan, who is 22 and of Roland Road, Bolton, and 53 year old Pratima Munjal from Montana Square, Openshaw, failed to check on Mrs Campbell through the night. When they eventually discovered that she had died they altered records to show that they had visited her and they also changed the bedding and washed her before calling the emergency services to report her death.

Paramedics became suspicious when they discovered evidence of rigor mortis suggesting that Mrs Campbell had been dead for hours, despite Munjal's claims that she had been breathing when she checked her less than an hour before. Munjal continued to lie when interviewed by police, and a post mortem examination showed that the pensioner had been dead for hours.

Munjal has now been jailed for 10 months for her part in the deception, and Khan imprisoned for six months.

Mrs Campbell's son and daughter, Clinton and Linda Credit: MEN

 The last year has been horrific. It has devastated the entire family and only now can we have any closure. My mum was an inspirational, strong woman. For her to have died in agony in her care home bed with no one checking on her is terrible. We are angry, she didn’t deserve that. But we are happy to see both Khan and Munjal behind bars, and for the judge to say that he wanted to make an example of them. Hopefully now we can find some peace.
– Linda Campbell, Lily Campbell's daughter

Our thoughts and sympathies go out to Mrs. Campbell’s family for their loss. We deeply regret the distress that was caused to Mrs. Campbell in her final hours and to the family. Following Mrs Campbell’s death the home manager and our regional management team cooperated with the police and Salford Council’s Adult Safeguarding Team in an investigation into her care records and a call that was made to the emergency services. These investigations led to a nurse and care assistant being charged in relation to attempting to pervert the course of justice. The overwhelming majority of nursing and care staff do a difficult job extraordinarily well, day after day to make life better for the people living in care homes. It is deeply disappointing and upsetting whenever we come across the exceptions who let down their colleagues and the people in their care. What these people did was not just against all their professional training and the company policies and procedures to support the well-being of residents, it was a criminal act.
– Spokesperson for Four Seasons the company which runs Laburnum Court care home in Salford
Full Article & Source:
Care workers jailed after patient dies in home

Woman Arrested For Stealing Jewelry From Hospice Patients


Woman Arrested For Stealing Jewelry From Hospice Patients
December 28, 2015
By Tamas Mondovics

The news of the arrest of a pair of healthcare workers in Ruskin, who robbed the elderly patients they cared for last summer, was much welcomed.

Experts in the field also acknowledged that the level of elder exploitation may well exceed what has been reported to authorities and documented by researchers.

While the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was pleased to make the arrests, detectives continued their investigations and had asked any other victims to contact the department.

The effort paid off and resulted in an arrest as District 4 investigators pursued a case concerning a hospice patient having items stolen from a residence in Sun City.

According to detectives the items stolen were mainly jewelry that included rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Investigators identified Theresa Belekevich, 44, of Plant City as a suspect, whom they said was a hospice employee at the time of the thefts.

Sadly, the investigation also revealed additional victims in Plant City, Tampa and Gibsonton dating back to October 2014.

Multiple items of stolen jewelry were returned to victims and their families.

Belekevich turned herself in to detectives early last month and was booked into Orient Road Jail for four counts of Grand Theft, seven counts of Dealing in Stolen Property and seven counts of False Information to a 2nd Hand Dealer. Belekevich admitted to the offenses and is no longer an employee of hospice.

“The investigation totaled over one year to investigate thoroughly,” said HCSO Public Information Officer Cristal Nunez.

According to the National Institute of Justice, the U.S. has no national reporting mechanism to track the financial exploitation of the elderly.

One recent study of 2,000 community-residing elderly individuals in Florida as well as in Arizona found that nearly six percent reported being victims of financial mistreatment, such as someone stealing or spending their money, selling or taking their property, or forging their signature.

As the investigations in these cases by the Sheriff’s Office continues, residents and any other victims are asked to contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 247-8200.

Full Article & Source:
Woman Arrested For Stealing Jewelry From Hospice Patients

Design Thinking Can Help Improve Care for the Elderly


By 2050, the number of Americans over age 65 will more than double. Our current health care system is ill equipped to accommodate their growing needs. The challenge for health providers, payers, business, and government is to redesign services to address those needs.

In response, the tech community is creating an abundance of devices to monitor and motivate an older population to exercise, eat well, take their medications, and live more engaged lives. But to make a difference, these products must be integrated into the daily lives of the population and the daily workflow of health care providers. Design thinking — which one HBR author describes as “an essential tool for simplifying and humanizing” — can help do this. A case in point is using technology to assist the elderly in adhering to their medication regimens.

Adherence is one of the most intriguing and complex dynamics in health care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40% of people over 65 take five or more medications per day. There is ample opportunity for them to be confused and overwhelmed.

Researchers have shown even e-prescriptions do not fix this issue: Meta-analysis has revealed that more than 20% of first-time prescriptions for chronic conditions such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes are never filled. Medication nonadherence undermines even the best cost-saving and clinical intentions of evidence-based care.

Various solutions have been tried over the years, ranging from labeling the humble pillbox with the days of the week to internet-connected pill dispensers to simple reminder systems. None of these solutions is ideal since they require patients or caregivers to organize, combine, and synchronize the dispensing of numerous prescription medications.

To overcome these limitations, developers came up with software solutions. App stores have a wealth of smartphone reminders that allow users to create a daily schedule for their meds. At preset times, the app sounds an alarm. Most apps also show an image of all the pills to take at that moment, matching them to a database such as Pillbox, from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.

But in spite of developers’ best efforts, no app can prevent medication errors if it is physically disconnected from the dispensing mechanism. Ignoring for a moment the fact that some older adults may encounter difficulties using smartphones, reminder apps are at least two behavioral steps disconnected from medication intake. Users have to look for their pill bottles, take the right pills, and then inform the app that they have done so. Even a minor cognitive impairment makes this routine unreliable.

Internet-connected pill dispensers, which try to increase adherence by coupling reminder and dispensing actions, also have limitations. The dispensers have either cellular-connected caps that fit on a regular pill bottle or systems that replace the traditional pillbox with a dispenser that tracks the opening of the pill compartment or the amount of medication inside the bottle. While these systems represent an advance in preventing medication errors (such as an accidental overdose) and getting patients to adhere to their medication regimens, they are not without flaws. For one thing, most of them require setting up a smartphone app for communication, which makes them challenging for the elderly. Also, users are still faced with needing multiple medication trackers or needing to periodically refill pill compartments on the devices.

In our research and practice of health care for the aging population, we iterate on its design, observing patients as they consume new products to promote their health. We have observed the following requirements for improving the health status of the elderly:

Synchronization. Having multiple medications with different refill dates creates too much complexity. Patients are often tempted to wait until more than one medication needs a refill before returning to the pharmacy. Synchronizing the dispensing process requires taking into account all the various medications that the patient is taking — something that often is not done.

Personalization. Generate labels that are easy to read and understand, with larger, legible type or icons to illustrate dosing and schedules, and explicit instructions that incorporate graphics.
Reminding. Provide reminder cues that have a built-in reinforcement mechanism designed to enhance adherence.

Integration. Create a system around medications, devices, and digital reminders to help keep patients on track and engaged with their care, a system that seamlessly works with their lifestyles.

One system that meets these requirements is PillPack, a service that simplifies medication dispensing. (One of us, José, works for IDEO, the company that helped PillPack design its products, services, and communication. IDEO has a financial stake in the company, but José does not.) Users contact the service to have their prescriptions as well as supplements transferred to PillPack. Then a box with pills packaged in daily packs is delivered to users on a regular schedule. PillPack uses robotic lines to consolidate multiple medications into individual packs labeled by time of the day. It also takes care of refills by contacting prescribers before the last refill.

While PillPack was conceived as a hands-free, convenient service for patients, we think it can also increase adherence and reduce medication errors. Synchronizing the schedule for taking medication and consolidating multiple pills into single discrete packs reduces the chances of intake or dosage errors. Individual packs can be detached and carried outside home by patients according to their needs and can also function as a tangible reminder. PillPack removes most of the friction from the experience of taking medications, including picking up medicines at the pharmacy, contacting prescribers for refills, sorting medications into pill boxes, and managing multiple drug schedules. In addition, PillPack provides a free smartphone app to give users reminders that are triggered by time and location.

PillPack’s ability to consolidate patients’ medications into discrete packs with patient name, room number, and instructions could also help prevent medical errors in the hospital setting.

How do we ensure our elderly population is taking proven medications to alleviate suffering, treat disease, and promote health? By understanding end users and their environments, which is what design thinking is all about. Studying how patients consume their medications is key to generating better health outcomes. Design matters, especially for our aging population.

Full Article & Source:
Design Thinking Can Help Improve Care for the Elderly

Friday, January 15, 2016

Community Care Licensing "Confounded" by Elder Abuse



Elder rights advocates testified to failures of Community Care Licensing (CCL), a Division of California's Department of Social Services (DSS). Testimony addressed CCL's failure to intervene in crimes against elders, failure to assess penalties for crimes, and failure to report crimes to law enforcement. Crimes disregarded by CCL included sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment, isolation, and financial exploitation.

Department Director Will Lightbourne testified that he was "confounded" by the Department's backlog. Lightbourne is California's highest paid government employee, receiving $343,000 in pay and benefits annually.

Lightbourne was formerly Director of Santa Clara County's Social Services Agency. Santa Clara County's Public Guardian was in the news for abuse of conservatees, some of which occurred during Lightbourne's tenure in Santa Clara County.

Source:
Community Care Licensing "Confounded" by Elder Abuse

See Also:
Investigating the Public Guardian

Ex-Broward judge Watson won't get job back


Former Broward Circuit Judge Laura Watson won't be getting her job back.

Watson, who was removed from office seven months ago, had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort to hang onto her job, arguing that the proceedings to remove her from office were flawed. Watson was accused of unilaterally negotiating a settlement with an insurance company in 2004 and freezing out fellow attorneys representing the same clients in related actions.

The Florida Bar wanted to act against Watson but waited until after legal action between her and the complaining attorneys was resolved. But soon after the Bar found probable cause to initiate its proceedings in 2012, Watson was elected to the bench.

The Bar cannot discipline judges, so the complaints were turned over to the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission, which eventually found Watson's conduct merited removal from her job.

The Florida Supreme Court forced her out last June.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday not to hear Watson's appeal.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is considering candidates to replace Watson and another judge, Lynn Rosenthal, who resigned last October rather than face JQC hearings.

Full Article & Source:
Ex-Broward judge Watson won't get job back

Is taking fees before a judge approves them legal?


The attorney for professional guardian Elizabeth Savitt — the wife of a Palm Beach County circuit judge — claims her client is well within her legal rights to take money out of the accounts of seniors in guardianship without a judge’s prior approval.

But local attorneys who practice elder law — as well as the auditor of guardian cases for the Clerk & Comptroller’s Office — say they’ve never seen another professional guardian take retainers or fees without judicial approval.

Is taking fees before a judge approves them legal? photo

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Marti Oakley Guests on "Time Out" With Kevin Gallagher



Part 1:
YouTube: Time Out: Marti Oakley Elder Abuse 2015-11-20



Part 2:
YouTube:  Time Out:  Marti Oakley Elder Abuse 2015-11-20

See Also:
NASGA Victims Page:  Gary E. Harvey
Help Bring Gary Home

Elder Abuse Task Force sends General Assembly eight recommendations


NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL) Tennessee legislators will soon consider eight recommendations aimed at preventing elder abuse and responding to it when it occurs.

The state’s Elder Abuse Task Force signed off on its final report today. Lawmakers created the task force after a 2013 Community Watchdog investigation into the state’s abuse problem.

The recommendations include changing state law, pushing for more education and prevention, requiring background checks for unlicensed home health employees, creating a statewide website to warn of scams and asking the District Attorney General’s Conference to research and suggest possible changes to Tennessee Code Annotated that can help with the prosecution of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“We have a responsibility to try to deal with elder abuse and to try to prevent it,” Elder Abuse Task Force Chairman Jim Shulman said. “Hopefully, with these recommendations and this report, we are taking a major step forward with our efforts.”

The task force will turn in its report to legislators and the governor Friday. Lawmakers will then decide which recommendations, if any, to implement.

Full Article & Source:
Elder Abuse Task Force sends General Assembly eight recommendations

DOT fines United $2.75 million for delays and disability-related complaints


On Tuesday the Department of Transportation announced fines totaling $2.75 million against United Airlines for violations related to disability-related complaints in 2014 and long tarmac delays in 2013 and 2015.

“We will make sure that airlines comply with our rules and treat their passengers fairly,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement outlining the agency’s action.

DOT said that its review of “a significant increase” in the number of disability-related complaints against the carrier in 2014 “revealed that United failed to provide passengers with disabilities prompt and adequate assistance” getting on and off its airplanes and in moving through terminals at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Newark International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport.

The agency’s review also found numerous instances in which United delayed the return of passengers’ wheelchairs, other mobility aids or other assistive devices, or returned them damaged.
The $2 million fine breaks down this way:

DOT is requiring United to pay $700,000 within 30 days. The carrier must also spend $150,000 to improve quality assurance audits of contracted wheelchairs vendors and another $500,000 on a mobile app that helps passengers with disabilities request wheelchairs and other disability-related assistance at airports. The airline is being credited $650,000 for compensation it gave to consumers who filed a 2014 disability-related complaint.
 
Full Article & Source:
DOT fines United $2.75 million for delays and disability-related complaints

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Adult Medical Kidnapping in New York: 1950s Air Force Veteran Held Hostage in Hospital

With a great urgency, Laredo regular is seeking help for his grandfather, Julius Corley, who is still being held at Montefiore Wakefield, New York, illegally.

Laredo relates that his grandfather is refusing a feeding tube because he can eat on his own and has told visitors that he is hungry and not being fed. The hospital gives no reason as to why Julius needs the ‘tec’ or feeding tube, but Medicaid guidelines show the need of a feeding tube to be reasoning behind taking medical custody of a patient.

Is this a case of putting the “cart before the horse”?

Laredo says,“I was served with court papers on Thursday September 3 around 1pm at my office.

According to the court documents, my grandfather has continuously verbally refused having a feeding tube (PEG) placed in his stomach. Montefiore Wakefield Hospital is stating that it’s medically necessary because he has dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

I have contacted nearly every possible agency including Adult Protective Services, Department of Health, District Attorney’s office and various politicians with no results.

I have contacted various law firms and the majority don’t return my calls and one claimed that they are of “limited resources” and can’t represent everyone.

The first hearing date is on Wednesday September 9 at 10:30am at the Montefiore Wakefield Hospital (not at a court house).”

The District Attorney has referred Laredo to the Health Department who referred him back to the District Attorney’s office stating that the hospital has no right to hold his grandfather and the matter is of a criminal nature.

Laredo has been to over 30 attorneys and is asking for that special one who is willing to help him tomorrow morning at the hospital, or at least point him in the right direction.

How You Can Help
If you can and want to help Laredo and his grandfather Julius, please contact him at laredor90@yahoo.com; so that you can help this veteran, this man, this grandfather who simply wants to be in a safe place where he can live out the remainder of his days without being tortured or experimented upon. Laredo and his mother have full medical and custodial rights.

Laredo says,“Feeding tubes are used when people are basically unable to eat. My grandfather can eat and wants to. He has not had surgery or anything else that would make him unable to swallow. I have videos of him eating without any problems. They won’t say why the feeding tube is needed. But my grandfather knows he does not want to have the tube placed in his stomach. Can someone please help us!”

Full Article  Source:
Adult Medical Kidnapping in New York:  1950's Air Force Veteran Held Hostage in Hospital

Nursing home worker charged with exploitation


Pinellas Park, Florida – A worker at a nursing home has been charged with exploiting one of her elderly patients.

Suleyka  Santos-Nieves, 27, of Pinellas Park, was arrested on New Year’s Eve for allegedly using a patient’s credit and bank card for personal transactions totaling $210 at two stores in November and December.

Nieves, employed at the Gulf Shore Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility, was released from jail on $5,000 bond.

Full Article & Source:
Nursing home worker charged with exploitation

SEC Investor Advocate to Congress: 'Appropriate Limits' Needed in Elder Fraud Rules

In FY 2015 report to Congress, Fleming says SEC used funding boost to add 91 exam staff

Rick Fleming
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Advocate, Rick Fleming, told lawmakers that he will spend part of his time this year watching the progress of proposed rules issued by the North American Securities Administrators Association and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to allow a broker-dealer or investment advisor to delay disbursement of funds if elder financial fraud is suspected.

Fleming told lawmakers in his FY 2015 report to Congress that while he believes financial firms “should have the ability to pause disbursements of funds, contrary to the explicit instructions of a customer, if there is a reasonable belief that financial exploitation is occurring,” if the suspicion is “strong enough to warrant a pause on a disbursement, it also should trigger an obligation to report the suspicious activity” to adult protective services (APS).

His office, Fleming said, will comment “as appropriate” on the NASAA and FINRA plans, and will also examine other measures that need to be considered at the federal level to protect seniors and other vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

Fleming told attendees at the MarketCounsel Summit in early December that his office is “actively” assessing what type of rule the agency should promulgate for RIAs to protect elderly or handicapped customers’ accounts if there is a reasonable belief of elder fraud.

In his report to Congress, Fleming said that any elder fraud rule or law “must balance two potentially conflicting goals: to respect every individual’s right to self-determination, and also to prevent his or her unwitting financial self-destruction. We should remove undue restraints that keep financial professionals from acting to protect their clients. Yet if we confer new authority on broker-dealers and investment advisors to intervene in clients’ accounts when they suspect elder exploitation, we must place appropriate limits on that authority.”

The challenge, he said, “is to strike the right balance.”

For this type of reporting mechanism to be effective, Fleming said in his report, “it is necessary for APS to have adequate resources to do the job. Sadly, those resources appear to be lacking.”

Congress authorized $125 million to fight elder financial abuse when it passed the Elder Justice Act in 2010, but “the first actual appropriation came in 2015 and amounted to $4 million,” Fleming said. “Additional funding would go a long way toward helping APS address the financial exploitation of seniors, a problem that likely will grow in the coming years.”  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
SEC Investor Advocate to Congress: 'Appropriate Limits' Needed in Elder Fraud Rules

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Danny Tate Still Trapped by Conservatorship


By Walter F. Roche Jr.

More than five years after finally winning release from a hotly contested conservatorship, singer songwriter Danny Tate has once again gone into bankruptcy in attempt to regain access to royalties he hasn't seen for years.

Tate sought bankruptcy protection in federal court in Kentucky in the Fall after a Nashville judge summarily rejected his attempt to recoup at least a portion of royalties ranging from an estimated $12,000 to $20,000 a year.

The royalties have been going to Nashville attorney Michael Hoskins who represented Tate in his efforts to escape a conservatorship first imposed by a Davidson Probate judge in 2007.

Hoskins already has gained title to Tate's Belle Meade home, which was sold off at auction.

In a recent filing in Davidson Circuit Court, Tate's attorneys argued that the attachments placed on Tate's assets and income were driving him into homelessness.

Noting that the garnishment was imposed on Feb. 12, 2013, Tate's lawyers said 100 per cent of his royalties from BMI music have been taken away, leaving him " little or nothing to for his personal family or household needs."

They asked that the garnishment be reduced to $500 a month.

Hoskins billed Tate $164,087.92 plus 10 per cent interest for his services starting on July 27, 2009.

Tate's new lawyers, Mark B. Reagan and Stephen Young, had charged that the amount being taken from Tate exceeded legal limits and that his contract with Hoskins was invalid because the songwriter lacked the legal authority to sign a contract while under a conservatorship.

They charged $26,323.44 had been withheld from Tate in excess of the legal limits.

Hoskins, acting as his own attorney, argued that the legal limits referred to by Tate's attorneys applied to wages, not royalties. He also contended that Tate had "acquiesced" to the prior garnishments and lost the right to contest them.

In a decision issued following an Aug. 28 hearing Circuit Judge Joseph P. Binkley Jr. ruled in Hoskins favor, concluding that BMI was not Tate's employer and that he had indeed acquiesced to the ongoing garnishment and "is barred from challenging all prior disbursements."

He wrote that Tate had 20 days after the attachment was issued in March of 2013 to challenge the action.

"The doctrine of acqiescence is applicable in this case," Binkley wrote, adding that "BMI is not his employer."

In a subsequent letter to the court, BMI attorney Richard A. Garza wrote," Please be advised that BMI intends to place a withhold against the debtor's accounts and await further instruction from the bankruptcy trustee."

Without his knowledge Tate was placed in the 2007 conservatorship by his brother. Subsequently he was ordered to pay not only his own legal bills but also his brother's.

Full Article and Source:
Danny Tate Still Trapped by Conservatorship

Mike Hubbard's lead defense law firm withdraws from case; judge issues gag order


The judge in House Speaker Mike Hubbard's ethics case today allowed Hubbard's lead defense firm to withdraw from the case and issued a gag order, telling lawyers on both sides not to talk to the media.

Also, one of Hubbard's remaining attorneys told the judge the defense would not be ready in time for the March 28 trial date.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker approved the motion to withdraw by the firm White Arnold and Dowd.

Hubbard had filed a motion giving his consent to the withdrawal.

Mark White has served as the main spokesman for Hubbard's defense. The firm did not give a reason for the withdrawal in the motion filed Dec. 31 or in court today during a short hearing.

Deputy Attorney General Michael Duffy told the judge that criminal procedure rules require lawyers to disclose their reason for withdrawal in cases in which a trial date has been set.

White disputed that, saying the reason for withdrawal was protected by attorney-client privilege.

White said information about the reason for withdrawal should be given to the judge in private, with the prosecution excluded.

Walker met in his chambers with the defense team for a few minutes before granting the motion to withdraw.

Prosecutors did not object to the withdrawal but said they did not want the trial delayed.

The judge asked Hubbard attorney Lance Bell, who remains on the case, if the defense would be ready for trial by March 28. Bell said they would not.

Walker had earlier postponed the trial from October to March at the defense's request and over the objections of the prosecution.

Before issuing the gag order this afternoon, the judge went over what happened Dec. 31, when Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart sent the motion to withdraw by Hubbard's lawyers to a reporter, even though it was filed under seal.

Walker later unsealed the motion, except for an attached exhibit that included the names of four grand jury witnesses.

Hart sent an email to the court and the defense apologizing after he said he realized the motion was sealed. Hart said the motion with the sealed exhibit was posted on Bill Britt's Alabama Political Reporter website for several minutes.

In issuing the gag order, Walker said he learned that the sealed exhibit was posted on the Internet before it was scanned into Alacourt, the website for public posting of court documents.

Walker said pretrial publicity can cause trials to be delayed if the court believes there is a need for a "calming down period."

The defense has sought dismissal of the case for prosecutorial misconduct and has previously accused prosecutors of leaking grand jury information. Hubbard attorney Bell filed a new motion on Wednesday asking the court to allow the defense to question Hart in a deposition.

Prosecutors filed an opposing motion saying that Hart's mistake had been acknowledged and that Hubbard's lawyers had made a comparable mistake in September when they failed to properly redact sealed information from a court filing.

Prosecutors also said disclosure of the names of four grand jury witnesses previously provided to the defense does not equate to revealing grand jury matters, although they said they would comply with a previous court order to keep grand jury witnesses' names under seal.

Walker scheduled a Jan. 26 hearing on defense request to depose Hart.

White and law partner Augusta Dowd talked to reporters after the judge approved their motion to withdraw. That was before Walker issued the gag order.

"I don't think you can have a better friend than Mike Hubbard," White said, choking up slightly. "I don't think there's been a person in my 42 years of practice who has been treated more cruelly and unfairly by the attorney general's office than Mike Hubbard."

White declined to say if the reason for withdrawal was related to Hubbard's ability to pay legal fees, saying he was obligated under rules of attorney-client privilege not to discuss that.

He referred to the reason for withdrawal as "a conflict of interest" but did not say what that meant.

Hubbard has paid the firm, at least partly, with campaign finance funds. Those payments total $256,475 since December 2013. But those payments have tapered off, with only $35,000 of that total paid since the start of last year.

White said his firm would fulfill its obligation to help the defense team through the transition.

White said the attorneys remaining on Hubbard's defense team were outstanding lawyers.

White said the case would not have been ready for trial had his firm remained on the case because of the number of pending motions.

A grand jury indicted Hubbard in October 2014, charging him with 23 felony ethics counts of using his public offices for personal gain.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Full Article & Source:
Mike Hubbard's lead defense law firm withdraws from case; judge issues gag order

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Green House Project - Caring Homes for Meaningful Lives


KAY LARMOR, 71, was in and out of conventional nursing homes. Then she found Green House homes at Porter Hills, in Grand Rapids, Mich., which is helping to remake long-term care.

Each home houses only 10 elderly people, and each person has a bedroom and bathroom. Ms. Larmor has private space, is able to order breakfast when she wants it and enjoys home-style cooking, including some of her favorites, like goulash and spaghetti with meatballs. Residents can gather around a fireplace in the common room, and Ms. Larmor enjoys chatting with aides in the open kitchen.

“This is my home,” said Ms. Larmor, a retired addiction counselor. “And I feel cared for.”

For greater warmth and nurturing, seniors are turning to small residences like Green House, which is part of a complex of senior housing and care options, and privately owned care homes that are often unmarked in residential neighborhoods. They are usually newer, sometimes cheaper, and generally offer more customized care than most nursing homes.

Nursing homes have, of course, gotten plenty of criticism over the years. They are regulated by states and the federal government, but quality varies widely. And even the best ones are typically modeled after hospitals, so aides often wear scrubs and hallways can feel antiseptic.

The ratio of residents to aides can be high too, creating more isolation for residents.

“Many nursing homes don’t have enough staff,” said Lori Smetanka, director of the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. “This is one of the biggest complaints.”

Dr. Bill Thomas, a Harvard-educated geriatrician, saw that loneliness and isolation were big problems in elder care. So he helped found the Green House project in 2003, which Porter Hills uses as a model that is now spreading around the country.

To ensure quality, Green House homes are trademarked and built to strict certifications. Nurturing values and a more active life are encouraged. An aide, called shahbaz — a Persian word that means a royal falcon that oversees the kingdom — functions as a leader, not just a servant.

“Green homes were developed from a blank sheet of paper,” said Scott Brown, director of outreach at the Green House Project. The results, he said, have been encouraging. Studies show that residents have higher-quality lives and significantly fewer hospital readmissions.

Best of all, Ms. Smetanka said, is that “residents like the coziness.”

Green House homes are still hard to find. Currently 180 Green House projects operate in 28 states; an additional 150 are in development. That compares with about 15,700 nursing homes in the United States housing 1.4 million people.

Source:
Small Residences for the Elderly Provide Personal Homelike Care

See Also:
The Green House Project

Senate Bill 84


Guardian power to request health records. Amends the health records law to authorize the guardian of a patient who was incompetent to request health records of the patient after the patient's death. Amends the guardianship law to provide that: (1) the guardianship of an incapacitated person is not terminated upon the incapacitated person's death; and (2) the court may not terminate the guardianship of an incapacitated person: (A) until at least 60 days after the incapacitated person's death; or (B) if the guardian, less than 60 days after the incapacitated person's death, requests access to records relating to the incapacitated person's death, until the guardian is granted access to the records or until the guardian's request for access to the records is denied and the guardian states that the guardian will not appeal the denial of access, exhausts all administrative and judicial appeals of the denial of access, or is barred due to the passage of time from appealing the denial of access.

Source:
Senate Bill 84

For those breaking laws, a turn of state’s direction


The Chief did it again the other day.

David Gilbertson announced on Tuesday the women and men who comprise his new task force on community justice and mental illness early intervention.

Gilbertson is the chief justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court. He is the task force’s chairman.

Jim Seward, legal counsel for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, is vice chairman.

The names of Gilbertson and Seward together signal two things.

This topic is important — and there will be results.

Four years ago, Seward chaired the governor’s work group on prison population. The last thing the governor wanted was building more cells.

The effort brought together state court officials, prosecutors, defense lawyers and others involved at the every-day level dealing out justice.

Their product was Senate Bill 70 in the 2013 legislative session. The measure, known as the Public Safety Improvement Act, turned South Dakota’s corrections and courts system onto a different path.

SB 70 emphasized community services, shorter sentences initially and the full brunt of the system for those who blew their opportunities.

The Legislature’s two Republican majority leaders at the time were Sen. Russ Olson of Wentworth and Rep. David Lust of Rapid City. The 33 pages of reforms won approval in the Senate 31-2 and in the House of Representatives 63-7.

One feature of the 2013 legislation required an oversight council to keep the reforms on track and to measure results. Seward chairs the oversight panel, whose members recently issued their report on the first full year of the changes.

In 2014 the governor and the chief justice decided to proceed on a similar project regarding juvenile justice.

Sending a teen-ager to a state, local or private facility runs nearly $60,000 per year on average in South Dakota.

But in many of the 66 counties, there weren’t community services to help those youths.

Again, the direction turned. The governor recommended spending more money up front on services and hoping in the long run to pay for the changes by sending fewer youths to out-of-home facilities.

The Legislature adopted the 33 pages of juvenile justice reforms in SB 73 without a single change last winter, 35-0 in the Senate and 63-7 in the House.

It too has an oversight council, chaired by the courts’ top administrator, Greg Sattizahn, with Seward as vice chairman.

Meanwhile the chief justice used his annual State of the Judiciary speech to the Legislature last January to call, again, for a study of elder abuse in South Dakota.

This time, legislators agreed – and became more agreeable when the chief justice offered $15,000 from the budget of the state’s Unified Judicial System.

The elder abuse task force’s report will be considered in the 2016 legislative session that starts Jan. 12.

Last autumn, news reports surfaced about jails housing mentally ill people. The chief justice established the task force that will make recommendations for the 2017 session.

It might take 10 or 20 years to know what’s worked. But we know, clearly, all three branches of our state government want South Dakota’s justice system to work better, and at a price taxpayers can better afford.


Full Article & Source: 
For those breaking laws, a turn of state’s direction

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Judge Approves Shift Away From Sheltered Workshops


A settlement in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit is set to reshape a state-run employment program for people with disabilities that has been heavily dependent on sheltered workshops.

Under an agreement finalized just before the new year, 1,115 Oregon residents with disabilities who are employed in sheltered workshops will receive jobs in the community that pay at least minimum wage over the next seven years.

An additional 7,000 individuals with disabilities in the state – including 4,900 between the ages of 14 and 24 – will receive employment services so that they will have an opportunity to obtain traditional jobs.

The settlement approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon comes roughly four years after residents with developmental disabilities and advocates first filed suit accusing the state of Oregon of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide supported employment services.

The class-action suit charged that individuals with developmental disabilities who wanted to work in community-based settings were instead stuck in jobs at sheltered workshops earning less than minimum wage. Plaintiffs in the case included people with disabilities who had previously worked at McDonald’s, Safeway and other businesses.

Known as Lane v. Brown, the case is the first in the nation to challenge a state employment program over the right of those with disabilities to receive services in the most integrated setting possible.
“People with disabilities deserve opportunities to work alongside their friends, peers and neighbors without disabilities and to earn fair wages, access equal opportunities for advancement and to achieve social and economic independence,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, which intervened in the case in 2013 and helped broker the recent deal.

“We are pleased that the state of Oregon has fully embraced integrated employment services for people with disabilities, and we look forward to seeing the ways in which thousands of Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities will contribute, grow and advance in typical workplaces throughout the state,” Gupta said.

At present, about 1,900 Oregon residents are employed in sheltered workshops, according to the Justice Department. Under the court-approved plan, that number is expected to decline, though the settlement does not call for the segregated placements to close.

Full Article & Source:
Judge Approves Shift Away From Sheltered Workshops

A frank conversation on aging, with Maine’s senior senator



Source:
A frank conversation on aging, with Maine’s senior senator

Nursing Home Residents’ Rights


Federal and state nursing home regulations govern the rights of nursing home and assisted living residents. These regulations, designed to protect patients from abuse and neglect, address privacy, security and participation in care concerns. Among these regulations are the laws created by the Nursing Home Reform Act.

Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987 following a 1986 study finding that nursing home residents were frequently being abused and neglected. The purpose of the Nursing Home Reform Act is to make certain that all federally-funded nursing homes provide quality care and services aimed at maintaining the physical, mental and social well-being of each resident. This act makes the care of nursing home residents a matter of federal law and ensures that any violation of the standards set forth in the guidelines is considered a federal crime. The act also offers consequences and solutions to problems or violations, requires nursing homes to provide specific services, and establishes a residents’ Bill of Rights.

The Nursing Home Reform Act enacted the following rights for nursing home residents:
  1. The right to live without the fear of enduring physical restraint
  2. The right to live in a caring environment free from abuse, mistreatment and neglect
  3. The right to receive personal care that accommodates physical, medical, emotional and social needs
  4. The right to privacy
  5. The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal
  6. The right to a social contact/interaction with fellow residents and family members
  7. The right to be treated with dignity
  8. The right to exercise self-determination
  9. The right to exercise freedom of speech and communicate freely
  10. The right to participate in the creation and review of one’s individualized care plan
  11. The right to be fully informed in advance of any changes to care plan or status of the nursing home
Full Article & Source:
Nursing Home Residents’ Rights