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SUGGESTIONS REGARDING OTHER NEGLECT CASES
If you have personally witnessed a neglect case similar to my father’s and would like to challenge the organization responsible then I would like to offer the following steps for your consideration. Remember these are merely strategies for you to consider and are not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice.
- Gather as much evidence and information as you can about the case before raising the issue with the company. If you can acquire photographs, video evidence, medical records and written statements from either witnesses or the neglected client then it will be difficult for the company to cover their tracks later. You want your official complaint and legal actions to be backed up by as much credible legal evidence as possible. The medical history is easily accessible to the client themselves. All they have to do is hand in a written request to their GP.
- Gather information about the company you intend to challenge. Details of funding sources, legal responsibilities and management structure can usually be acquired via the company website. Take the mission statements, company values and PR photos with a pinch of salt. These are simply rhetoric, and are generally so vague as to be useless in a legal case. It’s the legally binding procedures and policies that count. If the company has made these available on their website, then you’ll sometimes find them tucked away as an uninteresting link to a PDF file.
- When challenging the company, only tell them what they need to know. This basically comprises of describing the type of neglect you are alleging and the key evidence that supports your case. The company’s responses to your challenge can later be cross-referenced against the information that you held back. If you catch them lying or distorting data this will support your case later.
- Make sure all correspondence with the company is recorded and keep the original copies safely stored. If you engage in phone conversations or face to face meetings with company representatives then you will have no legal way of proving the content of those conversations later. These kinds of informal correspondences also allow managers to identify and capitalize on your blind spots. If a company manager invites you to engage in a telephone conversation with them, politely request that all correspondence be done in writing. If you must attend a face to face meeting, then take a witness with you and have them write down everything that is said in the meeting. You can then request a signature from the manager at the end of the meeting, which legally binds them to their word. Or better still have the meeting recorded on video.
Whether you choose to take direct legal action against a company, without first exhausting the company’s internal complaint procedures, depends on how much evidence you have, what evidence you need from the company and how confident you feel in challenging them on complex legal issues.
If the law does not provide the appropriate provisions to hold the company accountable for their actions then there are several alternative routes you can take. Presenting the funders and partners of the company with the evidence you have can be effective (it has been in this case). These organisations will usually be listed on the company's website. Informing the relevant Watchdog organisations is another option. And if the evidence you have is particularly strong then local and national newspapers, television and radio stations can be contacted.