After years of mismanagement, Golden Years Personal Care Home in Letcher County has been closed by the state of Kentucky. Problems at the home ranged from resident neglect and abuse to theft by the home's administration. By June 2011 the home was under an emergency protection order and Linda Bell was appointed to oversee the facility. Ms. Bell reported that the home was not properly maintained and was running a deficit. The state was not able to find a new owner for the facility, so the current 27 residents are being relocated to other homes.
In 2010, the home's administrator, James Tackett, was indicted in more than 150 counts for allegedly stealing over $500,000 dollars from the home. Most of the funds to pay for personal care homes come from federal disability checks and state funding. The majority of the monthly payments are signed over to the administrator of the home, with less than $100 given to the resident for personal use. Mr. Tackett's grandson, Jonah Tackett, was also an administrator at the home and was indicted on seven counts including theft and bribing and tampering with a witness in July 2011.
The State of Kentucky has been involved with Golden Years Personal Care Home since 2007, when Tackett was accused of injuring a resident by hitting him on the head. He pled guilty and was told to resign and have no contact with the residents of the home. In 2009, the home was cited again because Tackett was still involved with the residents. The home was also put in the negative spotlight in 2007 when a resident wandered off and froze to death. The resident, who suffered from schizophrenia and had a history of leaving the home, was not reported missing by the staff for 17 hours after his disappearance. Other complaints regarding the home included a lack of clean towels and fresh milk for the residents and limited social activities.
While personal care homes, which offer less care than nursing homes, are supposed to be a positive alternative to an institution for individuals with mental disabilities, oftentimes the homes are not much of an improvement. Residents are still shut off from the outside world and homes of this type frequently do not have staff trained to handle patients with multiple or complicated issues.
In response to situations like Golden Years and other facilities facing similar problems, advocacy groups are questioning whether personal care homes are the right place for people with mental illness or mental disabilities. Legislators are urging the General Assembly to create a group to consider how to better serve this part of the population. Kentucky State Senator Jimmy Higdon and Representative Terry Mills, who were both involved in the futile hunt for a personal care home resident who went missing earlier this year, are requesting that the task force consider tightening regulations for these types of homes. While some personal care facilities do provide positive environments for residents, much needs to be done to improve the system overall.
For more information on personal care or nursing home issues, please contact Kentucky nursing home attorneys Miller & Falkner.
17-year struggle to get care for mentally ill man ends in mysterious death; Kentucky.com; Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears; October 2, 2011
State shuts down troubled personal care home in Letcher; Kentucky.com; Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears; October 1, 2011
State shuts down troubled personal care home in Eastern Kentucky; The Courier-Journal; Deborah Yetter; September 30, 2011
Attorney General Conway Announces Indictment of Another Former Administrator of Golden Years Rest Home; Kentucky.gov; Shelly Catharine Johnson; July 22, 2011