During our investigation the Texas Department of Aging and Disability (DADS) services admitted it broke state law in the course of its investigation of the allegations.
We discovered that despite having a court ordered guardianship stating she was mentally incapacitated and incapable of making her own decisions, DADS investigators didn’t have it before determining the sexual assault allegations were unsubstantiated. Neither Longhorn Village nor DADS reported the allegations to law enforcement, as required by state law.
Now, because of what we uncovered, elder care facilities in Texas will be required to keep guardianship orders on file for residents who have them.
“We are going to have positive change,” said state representative Elliot Naishtat, who saw our story and took immediate action. Naishtat is the Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Public Health and also sits on the House Committee on Public Health and House Committee on Aging. He says since our investigation aired he has been in discussions with top officials at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and DADS.
DADS, which oversees elder care facilities in Texas, will also have new marching orders.
“Any investigator or case worker who has a situation where there are concerns about the resident who has been abused or neglect will be able to go to the file and see whether or not letters of guardianship have been issued for this individual and then to act accordingly,” said Rep. Naishtat.
First, DADS will direct facilities to keep guardianship orders in a resident’s file. Then the state will adopt new rules officially requiring it. Representative Naishtat says he will introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session proposing penalties for those who don’t follow the new rules.
“We support the idea of having some notation on a medical record that a person has a guardian,” said DADS spokesperson, Melissa Gale.
But does that go far enough? For the alleged victim in our investigation, maybe not. Her family alleges in a lawsuit against Longhorn Village that a male resident sexually assaulted her there in 2012. The suit also alleges staff did nothing to protect her even though she had a guardianship order.
DADS reopened the case after our investigation and finally reported the allegations to law enforcement, but again determined the allegations to be “unsubstantiated.”
“Even though she was ruled incapacitated by a court, they still felt like they didn’t need to communicate what was going on to the family or the state or a law enforcement agency?” asked Brian Collister.
“After interviewing residents, staff, they concluded, the investigator determined that the facility had not violated any regulations in protecting this woman,” Gale responded.
Full Article and Source:
New Rules for Elder Care Facilities After KXAN Investigation