A group home is defined by dictionary.com as a “home where a small number of unrelated people in need of care, support, or supervision can live together, such as those who are elderly or mentally ill.” Traditionally, a group home is a private residence with specific medical care for those with complex health needs, such as young children or seniors who cannot live with their families. Unfortunately, group homes are not often regulated, and many of the owners are more concerned with money than they are for their residents and the residents’ needs. Group homes are supposed to be a safe haven, but all too often, they are not.
Group homes are ideally supposed to provide a comfortable living environment for a small number of people with similar issues, whether that be elderly persons, developmental disabilities in young children, or people with chemical dependencies that needs support for daily living. The main difference is that these are not medical facilities, but group homes do have staff available to help residents with their daily needs for survival. Unfortunately, many smaller group homes that elderly and disabled persons find themselves living in have limited regulations through both the state and federal laws. Although they must be licensed and adhere to certain rules, because of the smaller size of many of these homes, many problems are often overlooked. In a smaller home, there may be a very small staff, which means that it is easy for abuse to happen and be overlooked.
Group homes can have owners or staff that become abusive to their residents, using their position of power within the home to abuse those that they are trained to care for. Some of the types of abuse that are most often seen in these homes are:
- Physical—residents of group homes can be subjected to physical abuse such as being restrained or struck by a group home staff member.
- Emotional—group home staff can be verbally abusive and controlling, causing worsening depression and mental illness among residents.
- Sexual—sexual predators are drawn to working at group homes where victims are both easily accessible and vulnerable due to lack of supervision and disability.
- Financial—Caregivers in group homes are easily able to steal checks, credit cards, and more from their residents.
Group homes have an overall goal of helping children and adults gain self-confidence, personal independence, and a better quality of life. A good group home would strive to meet these objectives every day, and there are truly compassionate caretakers at many group homes to look after strangers who have been through traumatic situations, and help those strangers begin to heal. However, there are many workers with ulterior motives who see these people in need as easy prey. According to the Ohio State Bar Association, abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation are the three most common types of criminal incidents in group homes.
Caretakers in group homes who commit these atrocities often have incredibly low rates of prosecution. The Columbus Dispatch did a four-month investigation in 2015 that showed how many of the perpetrators of these crimes slip through the cracks. According to their research, 2,000 reports of sexual abuse were made over a five-year period, and only 25 percent of these reports were substantiated; when it came to physical abuse, over 8,600 reports were made, and only 30 percent of those were considered valid.
The Ohio State Bar Association also advises family members of those living in group homes to know the signs of abuse. If there are sudden changes in behavior, strange marks on his/her body, or anything noticeably different about your loved one, then it should be a red flag that something is going awry.
Rinehardt Law Firm proudly stands up for the rights of the victimized in Ohio. Abuse is becoming too common across the state of Ohio, and our firm uses all of our skills and experience to represent victims and bring them the justice that they deserve. If you or a loved one has been abused in a group home setting, contact the Columbus injury attorneys at Rinehardt Law Firm today.