BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) -- A report shows that the people looking over your loved ones at nursing homes may be stealing from them and part of the problem has to do with lack of inspections or staff.
People living in nursing homes usually have a trust fund, which works like a bank account, but employees handle them.
These accounts can be used for anything from dinner to shopping.
"Whether is cash, whether it is personal needs in their daily care, it is a big deal for Bridgewater. We do make that a priority," said Jeff Lambert, who works at Bridgewater Retirement Community, which operates as both a nursing home and an independent living facility.
Lambert's priority is to keep a close eye on the accounts of people living at Bridgewater Retirement Community, however, before he can look at the books, a clerk makes sure account holders sign a sheet to confirm they asked for money.
"Again, it's having more than one set of eyes in the trust funds. The more eyes that are on it, the less chance for misappropriations," said Lambert.
A USA Today report found inspectors issued more than 1,500 citations to nursing homes nationwide for mishandling trust funds and in some cases, patients lost up to $100,000.
"The key is not putting a person in that position where they can do it to begin with. I will tell you the unfortunate thing is there are crooked people out there," said Lambert.
The Department of Health said they do have inspectors, but most of them focus on quality of care, not money.
Del. Ben Cline, though, said inspectors do check trust funds quarterly.
"We don't have enough resources to cover all the nursing homes in Virginia all the time, so we need to advocate for increase resources to track down those who are abusing the elderly in our communities," said Cline.
Lambert said they get audited every two years because they deal with Medicaid.
He also releases monthly bank statements to account holders.
Lambert said he double checks trust funds every month and said more mishandling can occur, if there are not enough employees.
"If you have a few numbers of folks working in a business office, for example, it's harder to have that segregation of duty and that extra oversight," said Lambert.
Cline said he would like to see nursing homes release the guidelines they have for their trust funds, that way the process can be more transparent and they can be held accountable.
Cline also said that in Virginia it's now considered a felony to exploit of incapacitated elderly and others.
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