If you saw the national news story about a Wisconsin nursing assistant sharing nude photos of an elderly patient on social media, you were probably disgusted. The eldery are to be respected, not made a mockery of at their most vulnerable.
However, social media-related exploitation and abuse may be growing more common in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
This type of dehumanization is not limited to the incident in Kenosha, in which a nursing assistant allegedly posted a video of a partially nude 93-year-old assisted living facility resident on Snapchat.
According to ProPublica, similar instances of abuse have been reported 35 times since 2012, involving employees of nursing homes and assisted living centers sharing photos and videos of residents without their knowledge. Nearly half of the reported instances involved Snapchat, a social media service in which photos appear for a few seconds before disappearing without a record.
Sharing a photo or video of a nursing home resident, nude or in another compromising position, without their consent is not only disrespectful. It is illegal. The nursing assistant from the Kenosha facility has been fired and she is facing criminal charges.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Social Media-Related Elder Abuse?
Many people are starting to question whether nursing homes and assisted living centers are doing enough to prevent this type of behavior by their employees. Is there any reason that nurses or nursing assistants should have their cellphones with them in patients’ rooms?
Some facilities that have banned cellphone use at work say they have trouble enforcing such protocols, but it is important that employers take some responsibility for the actions of their employees. In addition to limiting the ability of staff to take and share photos or videos of residents, employers should make efforts to ensure they are properly hiring and training skilled and compassionate caretakers.
If you suspect that someone you love is being mistreated in a nursing home or assisted living facility, take action. An attorney who is experienced in nursing home neglect and abuse cases can help you take the first step. Attorney Kevin Martin, a personal injury lawyer and a former nurse, offers free initial legal consultations. Contact his office in Oak Creek today to schedule your consultation.