Ask the Legal Expert about... theft from resident accounts
John Durso, Esq.
How can we best ensure that nobody in our office steals from resident accounts? We don't know if it's mostly smaller places, but it seems like numerous execs or office workers have been “embezzling” that way.
We all know that federal and most state laws require long-term care facilities to grant certain rights to residents, including the right for each resident to manage his or her financial affairs.
To protect funds that residents give a facility to manage and safeguard, the law requires the facility 1) to deposit funds in excess of $50 in an interest-bearing account that is separate from any of the facility's operating accounts, 2) to maintain a full, complete and separate accounting of each residents' funds and 3) to communicate with each resident or resident's trustee on the status of the account and make available to them all individual financial records related to it.
The law also requires that the facility purchase a surety bond to secure residents' funds in its keeping and turn funds over to the resident's trustee upon a resident's death.
A facility also should develop a code of conduct, institute relevant policies and procedures, and set up organizational checks and balances. A financial instituion wll be able to assist with this.
Additionally, the facility needs to educate its officers and employees on these policies and safeguards.
Finally, pay attention to your employees' behaviors. If any employee violates the code of conduct policy or procedure protecting resident funds, the employee can be disciplined, including termination from employment and be required to pay back all funds improperly taken from a resident account.
Western ranching advice seems appropriate here: Trust your neighbor, but brand your cattle.