When you entrust a family member or loved one to a residential treatment center, you want to know that they will be cared for properly. Unfortunately, such treatment centers do not have a great record – abuse is common, so common that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a comprehensive study to determine why abuse was so prevalent. GAO found thousands of allegations of abuse, some of which involved death, at residential treatment programs across the country. The results of that study shine a light on how abuse can occur so often and why.
What Makes Abuse So Common at Residential Treatment Centers?
According to the GAO, there was “significant evidence of ineffective management”, which included issues “with program leaders neglecting the needs of program participants and staff. This ineffective management compounded the negative consequences of (and sometimes directly resulted in) the hiring of untrained staff; a lack of adequate nourishment; and reckless or negligent operating practices, including a lack of adequate equipment. These factors played a significant role in the deaths GAO examined.”
Let’s take a closer look at the issues uncovered by the study conducted by the GAO. The study showed three key problem areas:
1. Negligent Hiring
Negligent hiring can include many poor hiring practices, but essentially it comes down to the employer doing their due diligence to ensure that prospective employees are qualified for the position. Residential treatment center patients are particularly vulnerable, which should mean that employers conduct thorough background checks, employment history checks, and so on. They should also hire based on experience.
2. Negligent Training
Patients in residential treatment centers are there because they need help. They are facing significant struggles and can be difficult to deal with for the average person. That’s why training is so important. Training ensures that employees know the policies and procedures required to protect the patients they are there to help. If employees are not trained properly – which happens more often than it should – then it increases the likelihood the employees will abuse the residents.
3. Negligent Supervision
Supervision is the third major issue that many treatment centers fail to adequately address. Even the most experienced employees and the most well-trained employees need to be supervised to protect the residents. And the fact is, most of the time employees are not experienced nor properly trained – which makes supervision all the more important.
Treatment Centers May Fail in Their Duties
Many residential treatment centers are focused on the bottom line – how much money can they bring in for the owners or shareholders. The three issues listed above occur so often because it’s cheaper to be negligent. The result is often abuse of those that the centers are supposed to be helping.
At Carlson Injury Law, we are passionate advocates of residential treatment center abuse victims in Utah. If your loved one was abused at a treatment center, we want you to know that we are here to help. We want to hear your story and help you hold the treatment center accountable.