Allegations have arose of neglect of residents at Oakview Commons Adult Living Center. The facility owned by Depaul Senior Living is located on Boyette Road in Four Oaks.
Former employees and a family member have told The Daily Record conditions for both residents and employees of the facility’s Alzheimer’s wing — also known as the Memory Care Unit — are less than acceptable.
The Daily Record received reports of one resident who had been eating feces and her mouth had not been cleaned for days. There were also reports of residents routinely left dirty, laying in soiled linens.
The allegations in this article are only the ones confirmed by two sources. Other more serious allegations not confirmed were not included.
The conditions residents face are, according to the sister of one resident of the Alzheimer’s care unit, deplorable at best. Rena Cameron says her brother, Elliot Snead, has been subject to neglect.
“They just don’t take care of the patients out there,” Mrs. Cameron said. “They don’t keep their mouths clean, they don’t change their clothes.”
Mrs. Cameron told The Daily Record she launders her brother’s clothes on a weekly basis, but when she goes to visit him he’s wearing dirty clothes that are often caked with dried food.
“I wash my brother’s clothes and take them out there every week and they still don’t keep him clean,” Mrs. Cameron said. “Sometimes when they do change his clothes he has on somebody else’s clothes. His name is in his clothes.”
Mrs. Cameron further complains because of her brother’s partial blindness he gets less than ideal care from staff.
“He’s partly blind and they don’t like to take care of him,” she alleges. “When they feed him there’s food all over his clothes and when I go out there to check him out I have to change him because they’ve got him so dirty.”
Smells Of Urine
She also complained about the odor emanating from her brother’s room. She says on more than one occasion she’s went to his room only to discover strong odors of urine and dirty bed linens.
“They won’t change his bed, it always seems dirty,” she added. “That’s not a good place, I wouldn’t take my dog out there. It’s a sorry place.”
She goes further by saying she plans to take her brother home with her and take care of him.
“I’m getting ready to take my brother out of there,” she said. “I’d rather have him at home. At least I can keep him clean, like I’ve been doing.”
Mrs. Cameron said she’s personally observed employees ignoring residents. “They do a sorry job of taking care of my brother,” Mrs. Cameron said. “I’m going to take my brother out of there because that’s the sorriest place I’ve ever laid my eyes on. They stand around and don’t do their job.”
Caitlyn Wheeler, an employee who has recently transferred to another facility owned by the parent company of Oakview Commons, confirms what Mrs. Cameron has witnessed.
“If the staff would work together as a team, the quality would improve,” Ms. Wheeler said. “Because you’ve got so much turmoil between the staff, it’s been affecting the residents. If I’m setting here trying to figure out who’s going to do this and who’s going to do that, then who’s watching the residents when the staff is up here arguing.”
Mrs. Cameron says her pleas to supervisory personnel have resulted in very little positive results.
She said she’s told facility supervisory personnel about her concerns and did not get satisfactory results. “I’ve been told they’re going to do something about it and they never do,” she said. “She said they were going to make them shave him and they won’t even do that.”
Mrs. Cameron also says she’s brought personal hygiene items for her brother, but they’ve all been taken and never seen again.
“His hygiene is smelling bad and I take things out there but they won’t use it on him,” she said. “I’m going to quit taking things out there because they won’t use them.”
Can’t Get To Items
Former med tech/personal care assistant Angela Snead — who is a distant relative of Mrs. Cameron — told The Daily Record items brought into the facility by family members are secured in the medicine room where only a supervisor has access.
“It stays in the med room which is behind the nurse’s station desk,” Ms. Snead said. “And the only person who can go in there and get that stuff when the door is locked is the supervisor because it requires a certain key to open the door.”
Ms. Snead says instead of getting toothpaste or denture care items from the med room, the staff are told to clean the residents’ mouth with mouthwash.
“Nobody brushes their teeth,” Ms. Snead said. “They give us Listerine in a cup and they tell us to give it to the residents and have the residents swish it around and spit it out so they don’t use toothbrushes.”
Another area of concern is the presence of bed bugs in the memory unit. Ms. Snead and Ms. Wheeler say supervisory staff have tried to deny the pests were present. Both women say they’ve been told to bag residents’ clothes and take measures to kill the bed bugs.
“There are bed bugs in the Assisted Living side and they’ve come to the Memory Care unit,” Ms. Wheeler said. “They can lie all they want to, but you tell me why they are having us bag up clothes and dry them on high heat? The last time I checked, that’s how you kill bed bugs.”
If those allegations aren’t shocking enough, Ms. Snead told The Daily Record one patient had been so neglected that no one realized she had been eating human feces, which Ms. Snead believes the resident had mistaken for candy.
“The lady roams a lot,” Ms. Snead said. “When she roams I don’t know if she thought it was candy or what.”
She alleges the neglect by staff members was so bad that the feces was impacted in the resident’s mouth and had to be scraped to be removed.
“When they went to scrap her mouth and pull it out it had been stuck in her jaw for days,” Ms. Snead said.
“Her mouth was so packed full that when they went to scrape it, it made her mouth bleed where it had been packed with saliva, it had been in there for so many days.”
No Comment From State
State officials refused to comment on Oakview Commons and any investigation — current or pending — or complaints received.
A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in an email that any complaints received by their office were confidential and not a matter of public record.
“If a complaint or any other investigation is under way regarding any facility, the results of that investigation are not made available until the investigation has been completed,” said Kate Murphy, senior manager of media relations for NCDHHS. “Information about specific adult care homes can be found by searching here: https://www2.ncdhhs.gov/DHSR/acls/star/search.asp”
A search done at the web address produced only copies of completed reports regarding Oakview Commons. And all of those reports rated the facility with four stars, which is the highest rating.
When asked to confirm or deny if an investigation or complaint has been received or is ongoing, Ms. Murphy responded in another email by reiterating her previous statement.
“All complaints received by DHHS are investigated,” she wrote in the email. “However, as stated, complaints are not a matter of public record.”
According to the DHHS website, the last inspection of the facility took place on June 22. At that time only the buildings were inspected for deficiencies.
The last inspection listed involving residents was dated Feb. 20, 2015. In that report the facility was given four stars. Prior to that the last inspection was listed as taking place in 2013 — again issuing Oakview Commons a four star rating.
County officials at the Johnston County Social Services Department have indicated in all of their monthly reports the facility is acceptable and showed no major violations.
They also told The Daily Record any complaint from a family member is referred to state officials at DHHS.
Preparing For Inspections
Both former employees allege the facility steps up efforts to hide any deficiencies when they “get wind” of an inspection.
“We always get told when there’s a hint of them coming,” Ms. Snead said. “We’re always told to make sure to be on our P’s and our Q’s. Make sure we dress properly, make sure that you are doing your hall checks the way you’re supposed to and make sure that nobody is wet in their beds.
“Because you don’t want Social Services to come out here and pop in during the middle of the night and find them like that.”
The facility is inspected monthly by county officials and Ms. Snead alleges when an inspection is looming, meetings are conducted with staff to help spread the word.
“When we know they’re coming we have a meeting,” she said. “We always know ahead of time when they’re coming. We know who to look for.”
“We have to clean and maintenance definitely has to be on their P’s and Q’s. If there’s anything that’s not working, maintenance is told they have to stay extra hours, work extra days to get it fixed.”
She says employees are told to clean the exterior as well as the interior of the facility.
“We’re told we’ve got to go clean up cigarette butts in the parking lot,” she added. “We’ve got to go out there plant flowers and make everything look pretty because we always know ahead of time when they’re coming.”
Attempts to contact the administration of the facility resulted in an email from Depaul’s Regional Director of Operations, Mark Spaur.
Comment From Oakview
In the email Mr. Spaur denied any wrongdoing on the part of Oakview Commons.
“The care and well-being of our residents is always our primary concern,” he wrote. “Oakview Commons is a four-star rated facility, which is the highest rating in the North Carolina adult care system. We do not comment on personnel matters as they are confidential.” Story courtesy The Daily Record