Theft in the Assisted Living Home

One of the subjects that rarely comes up (if at all) when you talk about the care home environment is employee theft. The reality is, many assisted living home owners struggle with this problem everyday. There are a few simple reasons for this. First, your average “mom and pop” assisted living facility owner is often times an “absentee owner.” Yes, they may be at their facility during normal working hours, but at night they retire to their own homes and trust their care homes to their employees, thus they are not present when the theft of food or medication, in particular, take place.

Second, is doesn’t have to be said that not every employee is an ethical employee, nor is every employee loyal to their supervisor, their facility or their residents to the degree that the owner would like them to be. This said, most food and medication theft occurs late at night. What you will often times see is a night shift staff member call a family member and asks them to stop by the care home to “pick up a few things.” “picking up a few things” equates to a few cans of green beans a five pound bag of potatoes and a gallon of milk.

Before you know it, your grocery bill has doubled. Sometimes your so busy that you don’t notice the increase in your bill for weeks or even months. Mean while your night shift staff are cleaning you out! Everyone here at the ACA has seen it time and time again, and experienced it first hand. Likewise, they have heard the testimonials from countless other assisted living owners and caregivers over the decades. As for the medications, sometimes the staff use them personally, and other times they sell them to make a few extra dollars on the side. Some care home residents take some very strong medications which do have a street value. Those staff members looking to make a few extra bucks know this and they take full advantage of it when the opportunity presents itself.

So, what can owners do to stop or prevent employee theft from happening? Well, the answers seems obvious enough, and it really is. Screen your potential employees a little better. This means spending a few extra dollars on a more thorough background check and make a good faith effort to verify references. Second, you might consider putting up a few hidden cameras in strategic locations around the care home so long as doing so does not violates any residents rights and so forth. Third, make random unannounced late night visits to the care home when your night shift staff don’t expect the owner or manager to stop by. This will keep them on their collective toes and make them think twice about stealing from the facility.

Lastly, try to be just a bit more observant. Sometimes things happen right under our noses, and if we were just a little more keen to what is going on around us we might pick up on those things. As always caregivers, remember to take “care” of yourself.

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