A North Raleigh, North Carolina, nursing home is being investigated after a patient’s daughter secretly recorded staff abusing her elderly father.
WRAL writes that state regulators have begun examining allegations of misconduct and abuse at Universal Healthcare North Raleigh. The patient purportedly told his daughter that orderlies had been tormenting and neglecting him.
His daughter, Rebecca Knapton, said she didn’t want to believe the stories were anything more than tall tales. Nevertheless—and moved by concern—Knapton set up a hidden camera in her father’s room. A later review of the footage revealed such shocking neglect that she says she felt physically sick.
“I felt sick to my stomach, and I just started crying,” said Knapton. “That’s my dad, and I’m not there protecting him.
“He wanted those girls to get caught being mean to him,” she continued. “I was hoping my dad was telling tales. I really was. I didn’t want to believe he was being abused.”
The patient, 68-year old Richard Johnson, was recovering from a stroke when Knapton began her independent investigation. Early one morning, writes WRAL, he fell from his bed and called out for help.
Nobody stopped by Johnson’s room or tried to render assistance for over an hour. When staffers finally arrive to help, the footage shows them verbally berating the immobile, elderly man.
“What are you doing there?” one woman asks. “What are you doing on the floor?”
Johnson responds by saying that he’d had to use the bathroom but had an ‘accident’ while waiting. Rather than helping him to the restroom or relocating him to a more comfortable position, orderlies begin changing his garments on the floor – even after the man told them that he was shivering from the cold.
“You were on the bed,” says one orderly. “You decided to go on the floor, so don’t complain that it’s cold.”
The same one later suggests that Johnson’s suffering is a consequence of bad karma, saying, “You had to do something very wrong with your life. What did you do? You’re suffering so bad, so you’ve done something wrong. Yes, you did.”
“How old are you?” another asks. “One? You’re supposed to be enjoying your retirement. Instead, look what you are doing, pooping on yourself.
“Shame on you.”
Universal Healthcare’s parent company said all of the staffers involved have since been fired—those remaining with Universal were made to undergo additional training.
“We value and respect the rights of our residents, for we have no greater responsibility than the care and safety of those who are entrusted to us,” said officials from parent company Choice Health Management.
“The behavior depicted is unacceptable and we are deeply sorry that this occurred,” claims a statement from the company. “We launched an investigation into this incident as soon as we were made aware. We took immediate and decisive action, and the staff involved in this matter were terminated.”
But Choice Health and Universal’s records aren’t glowing. WRAL found that the North Raleigh facility has a history of complaints and problems, ranging from staffers ignoring calls for assistance and forcing residents to sit in their own urine and feces.
“The continued failure of the facility during three consecutive federal surveys […] shows a pattern of the facility’s inability to sustain an effective Quality Assurance Program,” wrote regulators in a report filed last fall.