Home health care’s really bad apples

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My sisters and I took care of our elderly father during his last years. He needed help long before he needed a nursing home. So, like anyone who has looked into home care, I know that it is a costly, complicated endeavor. Plus, my father did things like get a crushes on the aides. As they say in my neighborhood – Gawd bless ‘im. He was 88 when he died two years ago.      

So, David Abel’s story in today’s Globe gave me the creeps. While home health and personal care aides put up with a lot of grief from their charges sometimes, it can go both ways.

One personal care attendant was arrested last year in Boston, accused of leaving a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy undressed, lacking water, and without stockings that prevent blood clots. Last summer, another attendant allegedly charged thousands of dollars on the credit cards of her patient. A year before, an attendant in Brockton was charged with creating an alias and defrauding the state of more than $20,000 to treat himself.

As the state Medicaid program has significantly increased the amount of money it spends on personal care attendants over the past decade, reports of fraud, abuse, and neglect have tripled, state officials said. The correlation raises new concerns about a system that requires no training, certification, or criminal background checks for attendants and operates with minimal oversight over the low-paid home healthcare workers.

Here’s a link to Commonwealth Care Alliance, which offers help for caregivers. Try to remember that most home aides work very hard for little pay. You try changing a diaper on a 200-pound person who can’t sit up and calls you racist names.   

 P.S. The Wall Street Journal Health Blog – which just won an award from the Association of Health Care Journalists — has a good post on the latest consensus report on health reform. Sounds kind of thin to me.

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