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How Not To Run A Group Home

Posted Sep 01 2009 4:27pm

This past Saturday, I made a trip to Jessica's group home to take her some new school clothes and school supplies. What I found when I arrived was more than appalling. I thought the best way to share my observations would be to let you read the letter I have written to group home managment and copied to our state's licensing organization. When I get responses, I will share those also.

(The picture is not of Jessica's bathroom, but the problem was very similar)

August 31, 2009

Ms. Group Home Manager
Group Home Company

Dear Ms. Group Home Manager:

As I mentioned to you on the phone this morning, I visited your children’s group home on Saturday, August 29, 2009, and was quite disturbed about the condition in which I found my daughter’s bedroom and bathroom. In addition, I noted several other things in the general living area of the home that I believe need to be addressed. I have listed my concerns below:

  • When I arrived at approximately 10:00 am, my daughter, Jessica, was sitting on her bed clothed in shorts and a tee-shirt. I noticed that there was vomit in her bed, and that she smelled both of vomit and general body odor. I asked her if she had vomited in her bed, and she said she had, when she had been sleeping. I also asked her if she had taken a shower either the previous night or that morning, and she said she had not. I asked her to remove the sheets from her bed, and I went to inform one of the two staff members present that Jessica had vomited in her bed. At that point, the staff member who had been cooking breakfast came to Jessica’s room and took the soiled sheets away. The other staff member remained sitting on the couch in the living room.

  • When the bedding was removed from Jessica’s bed, I noticed that the plastic mattress cover was in shreds, obviously providing no protection for the mattress. Since Jessica is often incontinent, I believe more attention should be paid to having the appropriate plastic cover on her mattress. Due to the type of plastic covering on the mattress, Jessica was unable to remove it. The staff member did not remove it when she took the bedding away.

  • Jessica’s room is carpeted but there is also a small area rug on top of the carpet. That area rug was not lying flat on the floor, and Jessica tripped over it twice while I was there. Also, the mat in her bathtub and the mat on her bathroom floor were similarly bunched up, and appeared to be a danger to Jessica considering she does drag her left foot.

  • Also in her bathroom, I noticed that the bathtub hand rail used to assist Jessica in getting into and out of the bathtub, was covered in mold. Sitting on that rail, and touching the mold, was Jessica’s toothbrush.

  • I began to clean out and sort the clothes in Jessica’s closet. While doing so, I noticed many gift bags such as one would receive at holiday celebrations (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas) filled with candy. Obviously the candy had been there for quite a long time. I also found similar bags of candy on her dresser. I am concerned that the presence of candy for such a long time would draw either insects or rodents.

  • Jessica’s entire room, in my opinion, had not been thoroughly cleaned in a very long time. Inside the lamp in her room, was a thick layer of dead bugs and dust. The tops of her dresser and other furniture in her room was covered in dust and sticky substances, her carpet was very stained and appeared to not have been vacuumed in a long time, and her windowsills were thick with dust and dirt.

  • On that morning, the temperature was approximately 85 degrees at 11am. The air conditioner in the home was not on. Rather, Jessica’s windows were open as were several other windows in the house.

  • Sitting in Jessica’s open windowsills were a can of Lysol and a can of Pledge.

  • As I was leaving the group home, I also noticed that the medication closet was unlocked.

As you and I discussed, it would be ideal if Jessica was able to completely care for her room, clothes and bedding. I fully support and expect that she will play a role in those tasks, and believe they are part of her plan of care. However, given her level of intellectual disability, the fact that she only has use of one hand, and her emotional instability at times, I believe it is unrealistic to think that Jessica is capable of maintaining those things alone. Also, given the fact that the group home company decided to move the children’s group home from the West End of my city, a location that was just 5 minutes away from where I live, to the far East End, a 40 minute drive away from my home, and understanding that I also have another child that is medically fragile, it is not realistic to expect me to be at the group home often enough to maintain a level of cleanliness in Jessica’s room and bathroom. In fact, given the amount of money that the group home company receives for Jessica’s care both from Medicaid and from me, I would expect a higher level of attention to cleanliness and care for Jessica.

I am more than happy to discuss this further with you. I believe at a minimum a professional cleaning staff should be contracted to thoroughly clean Jessica’s bedroom and bathroom, including carpet cleaning and window cleaning. I also believe Jessica’s rooms should be painted, and then a plan put in place to ensure that an acceptable level of cleanliness is maintained.

Please feel free to contact me at the address/phone number listed below.

Jessica's Mom
My Address

cc: Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services,
Office of Licensing
Attention: Person in Charge
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