Sara Kealy, ADEC’s Human Rights Officer, tries her best to have fun while encouraging staff to keep an eye out for abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“I see negativity as an opportunity for growth and advancement, to do better next time,” Sara explained. “Abuse, neglect and exploitation are not fun so you have to have fun everywhere else.”

While Sara’s role can often be misunderstood, she focuses on ensuring safety and upholding the rights of ADEC consumers and staff with dignity, respect and professionalism.

When Sara hears about a possible abuse/neglect/exploitation situation, she launches an investigation. During this time, she may contact staff. ADEC staff should not be afraid to talk with Sara. In her role, she makes every effort to stay neutral and keeps all information confidential, including the names of everyone involved.

“When I’m completing interviews, I’m not searching for the right answers, I’m searching for the truth,” Sara says of her investigation process.

To better understand the investigation process and Sara’s role at ADEC, this article delves into the process from start to finish.

What is a reportable incident?

“Reportable incidents are any event or occurrence characterized by risk or uncertainty resulting in or having the potential to result in significant harm or injury to an individual…”

This includes, but is not limited to:
– Alleged, suspected, or actual physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal/ emotional abuse, domestic abuse, neglect, or exploitation;
– Peer-to-peer aggression that results in significant injury requiring more than first aid medical treatment;
– Elopement that results in evasion of required supervision as described in the ISP;
– Missing person when an individual wanders away and whereabouts are unknown;
– Alleged, suspected, or actual criminal activity by a client, employee or contractor/agent;
– Significant injuries; requires more than first aid, fracture, burn, choking requiring intervention, bruising, laceration, skin breakdown, pica ingestion, wounds or   bites that penetrate skin;
– Any injury where cause is unknown AND could be indicative of A/N/E or requires medical treatment;
– Fire and/or structural/environmental problem at a service delivery site that jeopardizes or compromises the health/welfare of an individual;
– Fall resulting in injury regardless of severity;
– An emergency intervention resulting in hospital admission or emergency room;
– Medication errors;
– Use of any PRN medication related to one’s behavior;
– Use of any aversive technique and/or restraints;
– Death.

I witnessed an incident. What happens now?

Immediately report it to Sara Kealy, as soon as possible. If necessary, contact Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services or Law Enforcement. (Contact information listed at end of article.)

Within 24 hours of first knowledge, an initial incident report must be filed with the Indiana Bureau of Quality Improvement Services (BQIS), which monitors providers and client care throughout the state. If BQIS opens an incident, a follow-up report must also be filed every seven days until the incident is closed.

Sara then launches a thorough investigation for all allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Each investigation involves the following steps:
– Report source is interviewed and asked not to discuss incident with anyone;
– Accused staff is contacted and placed on immediate administrative leave “suspension” pending thorough investigation.
– All other individuals involved are interviewed, including additional clients who may be involved.
– Additional evidence is gathered and reviewed.
– Accused staff is interviewed last, in person.
– Further evidence may be gathered, including auditory/visual analysis, timelines, schedules, phone logs, medical records… etc
– After complete review of the evidence; substantiation or unsubstantiation of the allegations is then determined.
– Recommendations for corrective/preventive action are developed and submitted to required individuals; including Human Resources.

In cases of abuse neglect or exploitation, contact:

Sara Kealy | [email protected] | 574-848-2426 (office) | 574-276-0804 or 574-520-9739 (mobile)
OR Adult Protective Services | 574-235-5002 OR Child Protective Services | 1-800-800-5556

Did you know?

Due to Sara’s advocacy for staff, when an investigation does not support the allegation report and is determined to be unsubstantiated; staff members are now reimbursed for any scheduled shifts they may have missed while on the administrative leave (suspension).

How can you help?

– Keep everything confidential.
– Make a report when an incident occurs.

“I cannot keep anyone safe without reports from staff. So at the end of the day, staff are what’s keeping staff and clients safe. I’m just a reactive response,” said Sara.

Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist

Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist