AUSTIN (KXAN) — By law, home health companies must conduct proper background checks and workers must meet certain standards. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) is supposed to keep track of the background checks but a whistleblower claims that’s not happening, and the state is actually putting people at risk.
“It broke my heart. A lot of sleepless nights,” says Jennifer Crampton who is suing the agency she where used to work. The lawsuit claims she and other workers were instructed by a supervisor not to do proper background checks of home health care agencies or its workers. Crampton says she was fired from DADS after complaining,
“You try to do the right thing because there are so many people that are involved in this,” says Crampton, “It’s your sick people, your handicapped people and your elderly people.”
In her lawsuit, Crampton says she was even made to falsify and backdate background checks by her supervisor. That same supervisor she says told them to not take steps to properly process the renewal applications sent in by home health care companies.
An agency spokesperson declined to comment on the allegations in Crampton’s lawsuit citing the pending litigation.
But this would not be the first time DADS was not doing its job. A KXAN investigation found the agency not following the law back in 2014 when they failed to notify law enforcement of abuse allegations.
“We’re getting paid, our tax money is paying us to make sure they’re well taken care of some of them aren’t,” says Crampton. “There are some that are in jeopardy that are not being taken care of properly. “
Jennifer McPhail lives a mostly independent life, thanks to a little help every day from a home health care worker supplied by, and paid for, through the state. “People in my situation who need a little bit of assistance, it allows us to be independent in the community and that’s best for everybody,” says McPhail.
But a few years ago, she says a different home health worker that was sent to help wound up hurting her instead.
“I was injured when she was putting my foot in my shoe. She was frustrated my foot wasn’t going into my shoe the way she wanted it to, and she forced it,” says McPhail, who still has pain from joint and nerve damage. She wonders if that home health worker had been properly checked out by DADS. “There should be a better system to assist a person with a disability to make sure that those problems are taken care of.”
McPhail and others who depend on home health care want everything done to make sure that is the case. “It’s disappointing, it feels like a betrayal,” McPhail said.
DADS has filed a response to the lawsuit. It did not address any of Crampton’s allegations, it only said the former employee cannot sue the state agency because it is immune from lawsuits.