Recently, each participant in Senior Crimestoppers was sent a survey questionnaire for completion.This was done in order to help us evaluate how well SCS is working and how we can further make SCS more viable and effective for its charter members.
We received 42% of the surveys back from all Senior Crimestoppers participants, an excellent return rate. THANK YOU EACH AND ALL FOR TAKING THE TIME TO LET US HEAR FROM YOU.
We are pleased to share the results, as follows:
Section I – Ratings
- 87% of the responses rated the SCS program as effective, 9% rated the program as not effective and 4% expressed no opinion.
- The average time period in the program per response was 7 years, 10 months.
- The average facility conducts SCS in-service for its’ staff two times annually.
- 92% of the facilities present a section on SCS when orienting new employees.
- 72% get all new employees to sign the oath sheet that is provided in the operations manual.
- 84% discuss SCS with all new residents in admissions and in marketing activities.
- 75% are doing public relations in the community/ facility indicating that they have a zero tolerance-to-crime platform.
- 99% are aware of the Federal and State legislation that requires a proactive approach and program in place in order to prevent fraud and abuse and to protect residents’ safety, security and personal property.
- 76% briefed their staff on the new compliance requirements that SCS helps their facility achieve.
- 96% had their SCS charter hanging in a prominent and visible area within the facility.
Section I – Summary
For a large majority of Senior Crimestoppers Participants the program is working extremely well. Almost all realize the compliance features, both Federal and State, that the program provides; yet 24% had not briefed their staff about these critical areas of compliance. 96% of respondents prominently displayed their charter and ribbons. There were two areas of surprise: (1) Only 68% of the respondees are requiring all new and existing employees to sign the program/facility oath sheet, located in the operations manual, and (2) Only 51% are doing public relations in the community/facility indicating that they have a zero tolerance to crime position.
Comments on Section I – Summary
The Employee Oath Sheet is a very effective tool in making sure that all employees understand why the facility is implementing the Senior Crimestoppers program. Signing the oath sheet signifies that the employees have been briefed on the program and promise to abide by the policies set forth by the program. As is usually the case, PEOPLE TEND TO REMEMBER WHAT THEY SIGN, thus the effectiveness of this part of the program.
In this day of negative perception by the public about long-term care, facilities who are not using their participation in Senior Crimestoppers as a PUBLIC RELATIONS / MARKETING / ADMISSIONS BENEFIT are missing a golden opportunity to set the record straight and position themselves above the perceived masses.Taking the position that this facility is compliant with federal and state laws, does not tolerate any facet of crime, and has a proven program in place to prevent it from occurring is the most positive proactive position that can be taken. Further, the Senior Crimestoppers Charter displayed in the facility has the exact same meaning that a neighborhood watch sign has hanging at the entrance to most neighborhoods. Neither sign signifies that there are problems with crime, only a warning to all that CRIME IS NOT TOLERATED HERE.
Section II – Successes experienced with Senior Crimestoppers
Many answers and comments were received in this category. (Grouped below in order of most frequently mentioned are the categories) followed by selected comments received on each:
Reduced Crime – theft and minor incidents
- “Incident rate dramatically reduced..”
- “Definite drop in crime, and great deterrence..”
- “People are now more honest..”
- “Employee theft has dried up..”
- “Workers Comp. claims were down almost 60% from last year..”
Reduced Crime – major incidents
Compliance with Federal and State Laws and Mandates
- “Fast reward posting avoided a lawsuit..”
- “Never suspected fraud from a 20 year employee..”
- “2 abusive employees could have had us closed..”
- “A program with deterrence and teeth..”
- “You don’t want to know what we learned…but we dealt with it quietly and directly..”
- “The easiest compliance tool we’ve ever used..”
- “Deficiencies were cleared on the spot when they learned we were members..”
- “The lock boxes put us in state compliance and the residents appreciate them..”
- “Our maintenance director was the staff person to remember the compliance section in the Senior Crimestoppers Manual, when the surveyor asked our procedures..”
- “Our Board of Directors had your compliance manual copied and mailed to each staff members home...
- “It was a different staff when they learned this was their program.”
- “Now, they do not fear reprisal from others.”
- “All it took was one employee to tell a co-worker about getting paid $500 for giving information. and the word spread quickly now everybody wants to be involved.”
- “Staff likes having a program that reduces crime, because there is always a blanket indictment against them when something goes wrong.”
- “We feel our turnover has been reduced by having Senior Crimestoppers here…...criminals don’t want to work in a facility with no tolerance for crime."
- “Our workman's compensation insurance rates have been reduced because of our participation.”
- “Our agent negotiated a nice reduction in our liability coverage premium.”
- “The Board feels your program indemnifies the management with its protection features.”
- “Cash rewards and fast action prevent lawsuits from getting off the ground.”
- “Management is learning more about problems than we ever knew or suspected.”
- “Resident satisfaction survey shows a much higher rating on security.”
- “We have a newfound resident sense of security.”
- “There is real value in having something to offer when an item is missing.”
- “This program provides our social workers with an action/plan that families like.”
- “ Having Senior Crimestoppers on our campus is a competitive advantage that works.”
Section II – Summary
The comments from participating members of Senior Crimestoppers provide a good view of how the program is being used, and in what areas it is being effective.
Section III – Problems experienced with Senior Crimestoppers that limit the program's effectiveness
Eliminating several duplicate answers, the primary comments are as follows:
- “Problem reminding people to report incidents.”
- “We use a lot of agency staff…difficult to involve them...”
- “Staff turnover causes shortage in reward postings.”
- “Lack of response by staff to reward postings.”
- “Difficulty in convincing staff to trust the confidentiality of the hotline.”
- “Concern from marketing that publicity re: SCS indicates we have problem to potential residents.”
- “Problem in locating and placing lock boxes.”
- “Rewards may not be high enough.”
Section III – Summary
A total of 11% of the survey respondents made comments in this section. Of those responding, 97.5% of the comments cited on “problems experienced with SCS – that limit the effectiveness of the program”, fell into three areas: (1) lack of employee participation in the program; (2) concern that marketing the SCS program denoted there were problems in the facility and thus was negative; and (3) problems with installing, locating or using the lock boxes
Comments on Section III – Summary
Lack of employee participation in the program
This factor is a potential problem for any facility that believes once they decide to join SCS, problems will automatically disappear. The fact is Senior Crimestoppers is a proven and effective program for preventing and stopping all types of crime incidents from occurring, but willing participation in the program by a facility provides the “critical second partner.” If the facility is not serious in purpose about truly stopping and preventing crime, and the message of its importance not effectively communicated at all levels, the program will not take proper root and foundation. THE INITIATIVE HAS TO START WITH THE FACILITY.
The SCS charter hanging on the wall is the first sign of a zero tolerance-to-crime platform by a program participant. It should be visible to all employees each day, as the charter serves that facility just like a “neighborhood watch” sign serves a neighborhood - not depicting the area as a problem neighborhood, but reminding all that see it that crime is not tolerated and is dealt with swiftly with an effective program in place to insure the safety of all who live and work in the neighborhood.
The SCS employee in-service program should be held quarterly in each facility to reinforce the program and explain how it benefits staff and residents. Reinforcement of the facility’s participation in SCS is a necessity, for if this aspect of reinforcement stops, the words of the past ring hollow and the employee will lose respect for the facility.
Each person holding a job at the facility should sign the employee oath sheet. It should be a permanent record in their personnel file. This sheet is a simple recap of the SCS program, and insures that the reader understands the basics of how the program works. We have found that people tend to remember documents that they sign, thus this step helps to insure employee participation in an indirect important manner.
Several factors must be stressed to the employees during each SCS in-service: (1) The program is being provided as much for them, as for the residents.The facts are that 37% of all crime incidents handled by the program, with rewards posted, are crime incidents that have taken place against staff such as stolen purses and personal items, vandalized cars, retribution by another employee, and even resident abuse to employees. That the program is in place to help make their work place safer, is an important point to make with employees. (2) Nobody likes to work in an environment where they are blamed every time something bad happens. Unfortunately, this is typically the fate of any staff. With SCS working in their facility, (a) reduced incidents mean less finger pointing, higher morale, better working conditions etc., and (b) it should be made clear to the employees that the facility has no knowledge of any caller to the hotline and as professionals, they guard confidentiality in every step of the process. Thus, they should be assured that any and all information provided to the tipsline is totally safe. Reinforcement of this eliminates fear of retribution, fear of being discovered, and having to face management.
Finally, the reality of receiving cold, hard, no-questions asked, anonymous cash from SCS for any information that pertains to resolving a crime of any nature needs to be reinforced to all employees quarterly. They need to know that the facility has no direct or indirect connection with the program operation and that no one will ever know who calls the tips line with information. They need to know; (1) that they will receive a confidential code number to replace their name to insure their anonymity, (2) they need to know that cash rewards paid by the program most always exceed the value of the crime or information given, and (3) in most cases the reward paid is equivalent to a week’s worth of pay.
NOTE: Due to the importance of employee participation and understanding, each participating SCS facility has received – EMPLOYEE WALLET CARDS – to distribute to current and new employees. These cards are designed to go in the wallet or purse as a quick reference and program reminder.
Concern that marketing the SCS program denoted there was a problem in the facility
The Senior Crimestoppers Charter hanging on the wall at the entrance to a facility has the SAME positive effect that the Neighborhood Watch sign posted on the street near any residence has; they both signify that crime is not tolerated in this area.
The media tends to portray every facility as crime infested, and has molded the public perception about senior living facilities into a negative one. Negative perceptions are very difficult to turn around, and therefore must be dealt with from a proactive stance and position. By a facility stepping forward and declaring that their campus has a zero tolerance-to-crime position, and an effective program in place to prevent crime from occurring, they are facing the negative perception head-on and turning it into a comfortable, no-worry feeling of security.
Federal initiatives have been mandated directing all nursing facilities to adopt effective crime, abuse and fraud prevention plans and programs. Enforcement of these initiatives by HCFA and the Department of Justice is underway.The Senior Crimestoppers Program places facilities in compliance with the federal and state laws in the eyes of the survey teams and the federal inspectors.Therefore, by having the SCS program operative on your campus, you are not only meeting compliance, but have a perfect opportunity to present yourself as above the negative perception.
Installing, locating or using the lock boxes
The lock box component of Senior Crimestoppers is viewed as an integral part of the overall program. Actuarially, it has been proven over the past 5 years that the rate of crime in a facility or on a campus, and thus the amount of rewards posted and paid on behalf of a participant, has a direct correlation to the prominence of lock boxes.
It is widely known that theft incidents are the most prevalent, vexing crime to take place in long-term care. Just as in other forms of crime, if a criminal can operate successfully committing smaller crimes, he/she will likely graduate to more severe crimes, without the fear of getting caught. Therefore, putting a stop to the smaller crimes leads to putting a stop to all crime.In this sense, the lock box plays an important role in overall crime deterrence, and serves just as a police car on the side of the road does to motorists, a reminder not to break the law and a reminder of the consequences, if caught.
The maintenance department should handle installation of the lock boxes, and it is critical that the Director of Maintenance understands the value and meaning of the SCS program to the facility. If this step is overlooked, many times the tendency of the maintenance department is to postpone the installation or determine “in their own mind”, that the boxes simply can’t be installed for any number of reasons.
A Comment on the Senior Crimestoppers Reward System
The SCS program review committee makes a concerted effort to post the maximum reward possible for each incident reported to our hotline. Factors include: type of incident, sentimental issues, thoroughness of the information provided, impact on other staff and residents along with many other things.
No Senior Crimestoppers reward is ever retracted. Each one remains open until the incident is resolved. It is not uncommon for information to suddenly be reported on a year old reward posting.We have learned that people who harbor information on crimes they did not commit, but know who did, usually reach a point where they want to get the matter off their chest and move on. Also, all rewards are paid by the program and are released upon the incident being resolved to the satisfaction of the Administrator.
Each Senior Crimestoppers participant has a maximum reward amount, per incident, that was determined when the facility joined the program. We occasionally exceed this ceiling where circumstances dictate. We cannot, however, exceed a $1,000 reward offering on any one incident. However, be assured that each incident handled by the SCS system is treated with urgency and the reward posted is one that we hope to pay.
SURVEY CONCLUDING REMARKS
Senior Crimestoppers is your program.Use it properly, and for all it is worth. Enjoy the benefits. Call us if we can ever be of assistance.