When you made the decision to place your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones in an assisted care facility, you did so with the utmost trust that the staff would treat your loved ones kindly and with respect. It would be devastating and infuriating, then, for you to discover that some of the staff members in your loved one’s facility posted embarrassing and abusive photos of your loved one without their permission on social media. Sadly, this has been happening across the country.
A violation of privacy and trust
According to the Washington Post, a ProPublica study revealed 35 separate instances of social media-related nursing home abuse discovered between 2012 and 2015. There are likely many more cases today, as social media has only grown in prevalence.
Many of these cases involve violations of privacy. Some of the abuses involved staff members taking photos or videos of nursing home residents on the toilet, in the shower, or in bed, often partially or completely naked. These staff members then posted these photos and videos on their social media pages, or sent them to friends, without the residents’ permission.
A dehumanizing experience
In some instances, staff members photographed residents covered in feces or in other humiliating circumstances. Some even filmed deceased residents lying in their beds.
Other violations involved coaching residents to repeat vulgar song lyrics or hold inappropriate signs while filming them. The most extreme cases involved filming acts of physical abuse against residents to post on social media.
Fortunately, care facilities are typically swift to suspend or terminate staff members responsible – such as when 3 staff members were fired from a facility in 2017 for filming themselves mocking an elderly patient who was asking for assistance. For cases that constitute criminal abuse, staff members face criminal charges.
While disciplining employees after an incident occurs is good, it is not enough. Nursing home facilities need to revisit their training protocols, cell phone use policies, and employee oversight in order to ensure that no more elderly residents have to face the degradation and abuse that so many have already suffered at the hands of unscrupulous staff members.