Friday, June 19, 2009

Gullible, adj. easily deceived or cheated

—Synonyms: credulous, trusting, naive, innocent, simple, green. Green? That one surprises me. Today I feel like all of the words above. Except maybe green. I'm not sure why included that one but, whatever. You see, I have been duped. I have been working with a woman for about 2 years. A few months ago during our regular home visit, she mouthed the words to me "I need to talk to you without her here" and she was talking about her attendant. If you don't remember what I do, check this out for a refresher. So I asked the attendant to excuse us. The participant proceeded to tell me that the attendant is stealing her medications and verbally abusing her. I explained that I am a mandated reporter and would have to call the elder abuse hotline. She tried to take back what she said, but it was too late. So I returned to the office and made the call. It got assigned to a state worker that I knew from when this participant was originally evaluated to see if she qualified for our program. I called her and suggested we have the meeting at our office because I was worried about this participant being able to be completely honest with her attendant there. So it was all set. This participant showed up and in the meeting not only reported the medicine missing, but also that she and her attendant were in a relationship that ended a few weeks prior and she was not only verbally abusing her but was also physically abusive. Because they had been in a relationship, to me this was domestic violence more than elder abuse, so we called everyone in the domestic violence world for help. They had the same resources we have for people in this type of situation- a shelter or a nursing home. We arranged for a nursing home placement and encouraged this participant not to return to the situation. FOUR hours later she decided to go back to the situation against our recommendations, but it is her right to do what she wants. We told her she could no longer employ a person who has been accused of abuse, so she fired her attendant and went back to her. Even though she went back, she told me that she did want to get away from her and wanted my help to find an apartment. I started working on that with the help of the state worker. A few days into our work, the state worker called me and asked if I was sitting down. When she said that, I expected her to tell me something terrible happened to my participant. Things like murder and blood came to my mind...I was very concerned about her well-being. But that wasn't it. She said that she spoke to the participant's daughter and the daughter reported that my participant is. not. disabled. Are you kidding me? I have known her for almost 2 years! I've seen her in her power wheelchair because of her paraplegia! How could she not have a disability? So at this point I am not convinced. I'm thinking there is some bad blood between the daughter and my participant and this is all here say. The state worker reports this to the feds and the waiting game begins. We are asked to keep up our end of services so that my participant has no idea that the investigation is going on. So we pretend. She hires her other daughter as her attendant and things go on for a while. She calls me one Monday and says the place she was staying burned down and she and her partner are now homeless. I am hesitant to help her since the investigation is still going on. The state worker hadn't been returning my calls, so I called her supervisor. I don't do this often, but it felt like we were providing services to someone who might be committing Medicaid Fraud and I had to have an answer. So this lit a fire under her and she was back on the case. The story was full of lies. My participant said that the fireman had to carry her out of the fire. The state worker called the fire department and no one had to be carried out. The state worker also called the EMT who said that everyone was out of the house when they arrived and no one had a wheelchair or needed to be carried. The more she told us, the more information we had to investigate. So the state worker decided to do a surprise visit at the hotel where they were staying to assess her need for the program. She knocked on the door and guess who answered...standing up! My participant. No wheelchair, no cane, no nothing. When she saw the state worker, guess what she did? No seriously, just guess...she DROPPED to the floor. As if her disability magically reappeared when the worker showed up. She made up some story to try and justify herself, but this was it for me. That was all I needed to hear. We closed her services for suspected Medicaid fraud. Yesterday her attendant actually had the balls to call me and ask me why she didn't get paid. I kind of let her have it. The nerve! So I was completely duped. I have been becoming more and more skeptical as this job continues, but this is the icing. This person really thought that she had the system beat. How could someone pretend to have a disability? What would go through some one's mind to fake a disability, and fake being abused? This cry of wolf is going to affect my work with people, I just know it. Already a participant asked for some assistance to buy some new furniture and I found myself drilling him. He said he had been robbed and shot. I feel like he should have to provide us with a police report or something to prove it. Until now I would never think anyone would lie about being shot, but who knows? Desperate people do desperate things. I just hate to have my time and my work wasted. 2 years I wasted my time caring about this woman. I wasted energy trying to help her improve her life. And she was lying the whole time. The funny thing is that she needs my help now more than ever. Not help getting attendant care or getting away from her *abusive* partner, but help understanding why she has lied this way. But I am so angry, I don't think I can reach out that way. Maybe I will after some time passes. I would much rather help her see what she does is wrong rather than have her move on to another agency and another sucker to lie to and deceive. I feel burnt and taken advantage of. I try to focus on the people who do really need this program, but sometimes it is very difficult.