Former Caretaker For Mentally Disabled Shares Experiences
OKLAHOMA CITY - Over the past week, News 9 has aired a couple different cases where people who have been living in group homes for the developmentally disabled have apparently been abused by their caretakers.
In one case, a young man suffered severe bruising on his face. In another case, a staffer can be seen on security camera hitting a resident then spraying him with an aerosol can. In Both cases, the group homes were managed by a company called Supported Community Lifestyles.
Gayla Miller worked for the company for six years. She said staff members were regularly attacked by their developmentally disabled clients. “You could be attacked on a daily basis. I have been poisoned with liquid glass in my drink”, Miller said, “I’ve been punched several times. I’ve had busted lips. My hair pulled out in clumps.”
Miller said because of state cutbacks, pay is too low to attract good caregivers. “I mean it’s hard to find anyone that wants to take care of the disabled that truly cares.” Miller said, “And then the public wants to do an outcry, you know, about the treatment. They don’t want to take care of them.”
Miller said no one wants to end up bloodied and bruised for eight bucks an hour.
A spokeswoman for DHS said the vast majority of the clients they serve are not violent. She acknowledges caretakers should be paid more but with the state's budget woes, she says, that's just not possible.
Miller said, “The answer is more funding. The state keeps cutting, cutting, cutting until we have nothing left for the disabled. And that puts not only the staff in danger, the direct care staff, but it also puts the community in danger.”