One of the most difficult things for me in advocacy is being patient and waiting for the system to do its thing. In our area a complaint about abuse or neglect by law can take up to 90 days to complete (this is something I think needs to change). Often times when a complaint is founded (or as the system calls it “substantiated”) they are substantiated at the lowest possible class resulting in very little disciplinary action.
For the past three or four years I’ve watched as one staff member at a place in here in town slept on the job, texted on the phone her entire shift, didn’t do her checks when people were on precautions, improperly discharged people in the middle of the night, and just frankly had a poor attitude to to helping the people that needed her most. On top of that she has been caught lying to the investigators often changing her story throughout interviews.
I’ve had many complaints substantiated against her, some were however unsubstantiated due to lack of evidence (yep, you need to prove with documentation and video).
Patience With CMH Recipient Rights
I hate recipient rights, not the people there but the system and how its set up. I don’t ever believe that abuse and neglect complaints should be investigated by the same agency that did the alleged abuse and neglect. I can get pretty grumpy, sarcastic and snarky with the investigators. Even though their office is called the Office of recipient Rights, I often call it the Office of Recipient Wrongs because I get really frustrated with them.
Michigan law allows the Office of Recipient Rights 90 days to investigate something then 10 days to seek corrective action (thus 100 days from the date of the complaint) for anything to happen. Also Recipient Rights has nearly no recourse if the proposed corrective actions is insufficient making them basically worthless by law. I’m a firm believer that the system in investigating abuse and neglect needs to change.
Caught Her Again
So way back on September 9th I caught her not doing her job again for an entire shift ON VIDEO. I reported it to staff members the next shift and they did NOTHING. (Michigan has mandated reporting requirements for allegations of abuse and neglect). Instead I was threatened by the program manager over the phone who would not even look into my complaint other than talking with the person I was complaining about over the phone.
The Police Get Called
So eventually they call the police because I won’t stop advocating for them to let me speak to a program manager and attempt an overnight discharge. The police officer actually took the time to look over the relevant law (which I applaud him for as hes not educated in mental health code, hes criminal law enforcement). The officer agreed with me that they couldn’t do it and urged the staff to stop it.
The program manager basically tried to use emergency discharge from an inpatient place, and calling the police as a way to get me to stop advocating for myself and others that this staff was neglecting.
100 Days Later… The Summary Report
When recipient rights completes its investigation and the corrective action is received you get a summary report. This one was likely one of the thickest I received about 30 pages. The report states the investigator did a thorough job interviewing 19 different people. In it recipient rights substantiated the following:
Mental Health Services Suited to Condition
Attempting an overnight discharge, also providing a discharge notice while I was asleep.
Failure to do checks on clients who required visual 15 minute checks for over an hour
Six staff and the program manager failed to report an allegation of neglect as mandated.
The program manager threatening me over the phone.
Dignity and Respect
Staff member swore at me
Staff members called the police when there was no valid reason to.
Staff left the house unattended several occasions.
One staff was terminated for failing to do the checks for over an hour (it was all night, but investigators could only substantiate an hour).
The program manager was demoted and transfered for threatening me over the phone and failing to report alleged neglect.
Four different staff members received written disciplinary action for failing to report alleged neglect.
Three different in service trainings on how to do things they should already know how to do.
Why I’m Writing This
To get an effective corrective action from the office of recipient rights I had to do nearly three years of complaint filing, many appeals and go through this on many occasions.
Whats worse as even though they had an open and shut case often times the staff were given slaps on the wrist, or the office of recipient rights would substantiate an abuse complaint as dignity and respect.
An even though it happened again and the investigation appeared near to be completed within 10 days of my complaint the staff who was neglectful was allowed to do her job until last week when she was terminated. Nearly two months.
That is a failure of the system.
And this was not the first occurence of any of this at this place.
Whats worse is many of these staff did not report the neglect out of fear of their manager. Yep. An upper management allowed this manager to be in place for nearly three years.