DADS: Most complaints of unlicensed facilities not substantiated

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Department of Aging and Disability Services (KXAN File Photo)
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Department of Aging and Disability Services (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services continues its investigation into God’s Blessing, the unlicensed assisted living facility operated by Renee Segura, KXAN News wanted to see how often DADS receive complaints regarding unlicensed assisted living facilities in Texas.

From July 2014 to June 30, 2015, DADS received 249 calls about possible unlicensed living facilities across the state. Investigators were able to enter and investigate 209 out of the 249 complaints. In Austin, there were 14 complaints during that time period and DADS said they were able to investigate all of them except for one.

“In 55 of the 209 statewide investigations, we substantiated the allegations of operating without a license, but none of the 13 allegations in Austin were substantiated,” explained DADS spokesperson Cecilia Cavuto.

In most of the Austin cases, the facilities were found to not be in violation because they housed less than four beds and didn’t provide certain services, e.g. dispensing medication, personal care services. But as KXAN Investigator Brian Collister discovered the state agency that regulates licensed assisted living homes could do virtually nothing in this case.

DADS received five complaints about this illegal assisted living home starting back on April 24th. All investigators could do was tell the owner, Renee Segura to get a license, which they say she refused to do.

“It just really requires a cooperative effort between several agencies because we don’t have authority over a facility that’s not licensed,” explained Cecilia Cavuto, spokesperson for DADS.

God’s Blessings was required to be licensed as an assisted living faciltity because it was providing certain services to four or more people. Including dressing, bathing, feeding and providing medications. Because it was not licensed, all DADS could do was refer the case to the Texas Attorney General’s office for action to close it down.

“It’s absolutely awful. It’s horrendous,” said Susan Payne, who advocates for the elderly and disabled through the Parents Association for the Retarded of Texas.  “If they (DADS) do not have the oversight capabilities to shut it down the minute they walk in there, we need to get legislation to permit that,” Payne continued.

But Cavuto isn’t so sure.

“I think that’s something we’d need to talk more about, not only the agencies here, but the Legislature,” Cavuto said.

Even though the process for shutting down God’s Blessings took months, Cavuto says the system is working fine.

“Right now I think we have a great relationship with the Attorney General’s office and adult protective services, and we were able to act very quickly,” said Cavuto.

But she has yet to explain what action took place after the initial complaints that started in April.  We’ll follow up when we find out more.

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