Illinois has unfortunately ranked toward the very bottom when it comes to quality of care at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in rankings by an independent watchdog organization. Of the states just below us, Texas ranks at the very bottom, and recent news of another awful case of abuse at a nursing home there makes one wonder if there will be enough timely and substantial improvement. Earlier this month, a nursing home employee was arrested on charges of physically abusing an elderly resident. That resident also happens to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. This awful event underscores the importance of monitoring nursing homes and being careful to hire and monitor nursing home staffers to ensure that they do not neglect patients, and that they do not abuse them in any way.
The case also underscores how vulnerable patients can be in large part because so many tend to be elderly (the victim here is 77 years old while the accused abuser is 51 years old). Many states not only have your typical criminal laws against abuse, but also specifically employ laws that deal harshly with those who would abuse or take advantage of an elderly person. This case further underscores how vulnerable patients with mental infirmities, like dementia and Alzheimer’s, can be since those infirmities leave them confused and forgetful, and they may not comprehend what is happening to them, or may not be able to adequately tell someone because of problems communicating coherently.
The Benefit of Cameras in Nursing Homes?
A significant takeaway here is the vigilance of family members, as well as the potential advantages of using cameras in nursing home rooms, which has been a growing trend in some areas. The daughter of the victim in this case visited her mother at the nursing home, and was careful to observe her mother’s physical and overall well-being. In doing so, she noticed physical injuries that her mother or anyone else was seemingly unable to explain, and went to facility management to disclose what she found.
The hospital agreed to allow her to put a hidden camera in the room to document what went on, which is permissible in the state of Texas under law. Not long after, the victim’s daughter received a call that her mother was in pain and might have fallen, and eventually learned that her mother suffered a back injury. She would eventually go to the police. Upon review of the hidden camera footage, the accused nursing home staffer “hit the older woman in her face and body, then shoved her onto a bed,” followed by images of her “sitting, slumped over in the walk-in shower” with the staffer “pulling her up by her arm,” according to a local news outlet’s summary of the arrest affidavit. To make matters even worse, it was reported that the staffer submitted a false written report from the staffer about the incident.
From the vulnerability of the elderly and those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, to the importance of the vigilance of family and friends, to the value of cameras recording evidence, and finally the active involvement of law enforcement, this unfortunate case presents a myriad of issues faced by nursing home residents, as well as the ways in which such abuse can be detected and potentially stopped in the future.
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