Another horror story unfolded at a nursing home in Boynton Beach, Fla., where a 67-year-old woman with dementia was duct-taped to a chair by her caretakers.
Her caretakers, Phygelle Brudent and Lashron Williams, have been charged with elderly abuse and false imprisonment following their arrest by the local police department.
“Phygelle Brudent, 44, admitted to investigators that she took the patient to another resident’s room, tied her waist to a chair with cloth pajama pants and taped her hands and feet against the chair, an arrest report said,” according to an article in the Sun Sentinel titled “Caretaker accused of using duct tape to tie up 67-year-old woman.” “Brudent told police she applied tape to the patient’s mouth to prevent her from screaming, as she was unable to remain quiet. Brudent said she was frustrated that the woman could not keep quiet and she had other patients to care for, according to reports. A second caretaker, Lashron Williams, 52, told police she saw the woman with duct tape around her mouth, and removed it to give her sleeping pills. She also removed a small portion of the tape that bound the woman’s body. A third employee of the facility is being investigated as a possible suspect in the continuing investigation, Boynton Beach Police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said.”
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration is investigating the incident as is the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“The allegations regarding this victim are reprehensible and DCF has opened an adult protective investigation,” the department told the Sun Sentinel.
Colonial Assisted Living, doing business as Regal Park Assisted Living, a 90-bed facility where the crimes allegedly occurred, released a perfunctory statement: “We are taking these allegations very seriously. We are conducting our own internal investigation, as well as cooperating fully with appropriate authorities. At this time we have no further information but will make it available as soon as it surfaces. Please understand our first and foremost concern and responsibility is to the continued well-being and happiness of our residents.”
The well-being and happiness of residents? If that is its concern and responsibility, it has failed miserably. Hiring workers capable of such crimes is a crime .
“To tie someone to a chair with duct tape is the most abusive thing I’ve heard since doing this in my practice,” Karen Terry, a lawyer at Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley who specializes in cases of nursing-home abuse, said in an interview. “It’s critically important to do an investigation upfront before you put your parent or loved one in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility.”
A good place to start that investigation is U.S. News & World Report’s Best Nursing Homes Ratings Web site, which ranks over 15,000 nursing homes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. FloridaHealthFinder.gov, a service of the Agency for Health Care Administration, also provides valuable information about nursing homes throughout the state.
“With a rising older person population with increasing life expectancies, the demand for care homes will increase in the future,” according to an article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information titled “Protecting care home residents from mistreatment and abuse: on the need for policy.” “Older people in care homes are particularly vulnerable due to their dependencies related to cognitive and / or functional self-care challenges. Although many care homes provide good care, maltreatment and abuse of older people can and does occur. One major step in preventing and addressing maltreatment in care homes is having comprehensive and responsive policy, which delineates national expectations that are locally implemented.”
Regal Park Assisted Living should take note and fix its broken system before another resident is abused.
“Elder abuse is a growing problem,” according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. “While we don’t know all of the details about why abuse occurs or how to stop its spread, we do know that help is available for victims. Concerned people, like you, can spot the warning signs of a possible problem, and make a call for help if an elder is in need of assistance.”
Here are common signs and symptoms of elder abuse:
- Abrasions, bed sores, broken bones, bruises and burns.
- Changes in mental acuity and development of depression.
- Bad hygiene and weight loss.
- Lack of medical equipment, such as canes, eyeglasses and hearing aids.
To report elder abuse in Florida, call 800-962-2873 or visit www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/abuse/report.shtml. The hotline operates 24 / 7. If an elder is in immediate danger because of abuse, call 911.