Theft is an unfortunate reality in many nursing homes. Nursing home residents are often the target of theft because they have difficulty detecting and reporting the crime. In fact, most incidents of theft aren’t even officially reported.
Stolen property often includes money, jewelry, clothing, and technology. Victims of theft can be especially affected by the loss because they may have few personal possessions available to them in the facility. Other items like eye glasses, hearing aids, and dentures also go missing. While these items may not have been stolen, the loss of these items should be investigated and documented. Replacements should be found quickly so resident health and well-being is minimally impacted.
Nursing homes can reduce the risk of theft by defining and executing policies that includes managing resident inventory, staff training, investigation and reporting practices.
Each state may have requirements and guidelines for preventing nursing home theft. In California for example, the California Health & Safety Code states that a theft and loss program must be implemented that includes:
- Establishment and posting of the facility’s policy regarding theft and investigative procedures
- Orientation to policies and procedure for all employees within 90 days of employment
- Documentation of lost and stolen patient property with a value of twenty-five dollars ($25) or more
- A written patient personal property inventory is established upon admission and retained during the resident’s stay
- Inventory and surrender of the resident’s personal effects and valuables upon discharge or death
- Documentation, at least semiannually, of the facility’s efforts to control theft and loss
- Establishment of a method of marking, to the extent feasible, personal property items for identification purpose
- Reports to the local law enforcement agency within 36 hours when the administrator of the facility has reason to believe patient property with a then-current value of one hundred dollars ($100) or more has been stolen
- Maintenance of a secured area for patients’ property which is available for safekeeping of patient property
*California Code, Heath and Safety Code – HSC § 1289.4
Even if your facility is not located in California, these guidelines can help craft good policies and procedures for protecting your residents’ property.