Last month the Georgia House panel approved a bill that raises the penalties for people who operate an unlicensed personal care home. The bill is currently being considered by the Senate. HB 899 would make the penalty for the first violation a felony rather than a misdemeanor, for a sentence of one to five years. The second penalty would be punishable for one to ten years.
The bill was inspired by testimony from the Marietta Police Chief who described two cases in Cobb County where one woman was kept in a hot garage without food or medicine, and another house where patients lived in squalid conditions. In September of last year, a news station reported an unlicensed care home in Marietta that housed twelve residents in a basement with rooms made up of plywood walls, no doors, and no bathing facilities. Officers also found in a refrigerator in the home with rotting food and overrun by insects.
When a loved one is hurt by terrible conditions, regardless of whether the facility is licensed or unlicensed, the owner or operator of the nursing home may be held responsible for elder abuse of any kind. Elder abuse is considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be a public health problem and defines the group to consist of adults over the age of 60. This population is at high risk of being subjected to physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial abuse due to the combination of physical and mental limitations that occur with age, causing increased vulnerability. The CDC further describes each of these types of abuse and encourages consistent definition of elder abuse, noting that the inconsistency creates gaps in intervention and prevention. Continue reading