For Further Information:
NEWARK – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that the State Board of Nursing has permanently revoked the certification of a certified homemaker-home health aide who was arrested for allegedly tying a 71-year-old woman with dementia patient to a chair while caring for the woman in a Gloucester County assisted living facility.
Afua Dankwah, 51, of Morrisville, Pa., was charged with endangering another person and abandonment/neglect of an elderly, disabled adult in connection with the alleged incident that occurred in the woman’s apartment at the Juniper Village/Well Springs Assisted Living Facility in Monroe Township last fall.
After receiving notice of Dankwah’s arrest, the Board investigated the allegations and found that Dankwah’s actions were cause for disciplinary sanctions for gross negligence, professional misconduct, and engaging in a crime or offense of moral turpitude. To resolve the matter, Dankwah agreed to the permanent revocation of her certification to practice as a homemaker-home health aide in New Jersey.
“Abuse and neglect of seniors and individuals with disabilities will not be tolerated,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “This action demonstrates our continued commitment to protecting vulnerable New Jerseyans from harm at the hands of those entrusted with their care.”
According to a Consent Order filed by the Board, a supervising registered nurse at the facility discovered the alleged abuse during a visit to the apartment of the victim, who had in-room home health aides assigned to her 24 hours a day.
The nurse knocked at the door of the apartment and, when there was no response, used the key to enter. Upon entry, she found the resident tied to a chair at the waist with a nightgown. Dankwah, the assigned home health aide, was in the bathroom. When questioned, Dankwah admitted tying the patient to the chair to prevent the patient from moving while she was in the bathroom.
The criminal charges against Dankwah are pending in Gloucester County.
“People across New Jersey rely every day on certified homemaker-home health aides for care and support. We have to hold these caretakers to the highest professional standards to protect vulnerable New Jerseyans,” said Sean P. Neafsey, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “The alleged conduct of this home health aide represents an egregious breach of those standards and a callous disregard for the person in her care. By permanently revoking her certification, the Board has fulfilled its duty to protect the public.”
Certified homemaker-home health aides are employees of healthcare service firms, and work under the direction of registered professional nurses to care for patients that require support, including older people, and people with illnesses or disabilities. They might help patients dress, bathe, toilet, and complete other daily tasks. They might also prepare patients’ meals, do light laundering, tidy patients’ rooms, run errands, or assist with exercise regimens.
To address concerns about in-home patient abuse, the Division of Consumer Affairs launched a “Safe Care Cam” program that makes micro-surveillance cameras available free on loan for 30 days to New Jersey residents who suspect a loved one is being abused or neglected by a caregiver at home or in a residential care facility. To learn more about the program visit the Division’s Safe Care Cam webpage at https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/SCC.
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation into the allegations against Dankwah.
Deputy Attorney General Anne Marie Shatto of the Division of Law’s Professional Boards Prosecution Section represented the State in this matter.
Patients who believe that they have been treated by a licensed health care professional in an inappropriate manner can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.