The Ohio Department of Aging decision to revoke Trumbull SCOPE's long-term care certification may be what's best for the agency and the county's seniors.
SCOPE has existed for more than 50 years. It has locations throughout the county, including Champion, Cortland, Howland, Lordstown, Niles and Warren, where active seniors engage in dance, arts and crafts, cards, low-impact sports, physical fitness, field trips, entertainment and myriad other socializing events, some as simple as sitting and talking. SCOPE carrying out these functions has been a blessing toward maintaining a high quality of life for Trumbull's aging population.
The state's ruling should not impact these important programs, which receive support from the Trumbull senior levy.
The ruling stops SCOPE's ability to provide in-home health care.
SCOPE failed to conduct required criminal background checks on 16 employees hired into direct-care positions and failed to conduct the checks in a timely manner for 25 other workers.
SCOPE also failed to maintain an adequate criminal background check log; hired a chore/homemaker worker despite a disqualifying offense; and hired a health aide homemaker without considering a disqualifying offense.
The Department of Aging released its decision on Tuesday. It means SCOPE may not provide services under the Medicaid-funded PASSPORT program, designed to help elderly remain in their homes rather than enter long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. SCOPE director Ralph Smith said the agency would appeal.
Smith, who was not with the agency when any of the offenses were committed, said the appeal would be based on how no seniors were harmed, no money is missing and none of the decision-makers responsible are still working at SCOPE. But since the case is not yet closed, harmful offenses could still surface. Even if none do, there are many providers with impeccable records to care for Trumbull's elderly.
But nobody provided activities for seniors quite like SCOPE. So the state's ruling means SCOPE can refocus on what it has always done well. Restricting itself to the mission of operating senior centers, the respected place SCOPE earned in the community would quickly and easily be restored and seniors would continue to have opportunities for stimulating engagement.