Hire-Direct Senior Caregiver Fraud and Abuse Stories

Aunt Mary with no family nearby: I received a call one day from a nice man living in Canada who had found a direct-hire caregiver to assist his Aunt in Chicago. He was in a wheelchair from an accident he had suffered a few years ago and had not been able to visit his Aunt since the accident.

His Aunt (we’ll call her Aunt Mary) was a widow with no children. While she had worked her entire life and owned her home, her nephew was trying to conserve her assets as best as possible. He did want her to have good care and the caregiver he found was set-up to move in and live with his Aunt to be there around the clock. She had a variety of ailments, including diabetes, high blood pressure and some mobility issues. She also was about 100 pounds overweight which added additional challenges for walking. She often had knee pain and was unable to walk up and down her front stairs.

Recently, it seemed that Aunt Mary was more and more distant and sometimes did not know who he was when the nephew called. Then a neighbor called him, concerned that she was not eating enough and that the caregiver was gone most of the time.

I arrived at the house to conduct a Client Assessment interview. It was apparent Aunt Mary had not had a bath or a haircut in a very long time. She did not have healthy food in her refrigerator and there was no sign of the caregiver. After speaking with the neighbor, I learned that the caregiver was working another job during the day and actually did not spend the night with the senior. The caregiver also did not speak very good English, which complicated issues since Aunt Mary was already suffering from memory loss and communication was a challenge for her. In addition, Aunt Mary’s medications did not match the medication list the nephew had sent to me. The doctor confirmed that if she were not taking her medications as scheduled, this would cause additional confusion and appetite issues.

I immediately found a caregiver to come and assist me in giving her a shower and I called the pharmacy to organize her medications. I then made a list of needed repairs (there was no light in the kitchen and the bathroom shower needed a grab bar and the vacuum cleaner did not work). We began staffing a live-in caregiver to assist Aunt Mary to begin a daily routine and we set-up doctor’s appointments for her and arranged for her household repairs. We also had the locks changed on the doors. Aunt Mary did improve and eventually her nephew arranged for her long-term care in a nursing home because of safety concerns due to Aunt Mary’s weight and mobility issues.

Aunt Mary was sometimes resistant to care and sometimes would become angry and speak in her native language. She was not always an easy client. I do sympathize with her hire-direct caregiver as she did not have support and training for a challenging care situation. However, she should have notified the nephew that she was not able to meet Aunt Mary’s care needs.

This real-life story about inadequate senior care explains why it is important to only hire quality senior home care agencies to deliver senior care services.