The agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are now hot on the heels of abusive healthcare workers who post degrading pictures of their patients online. A warning has been issued by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to these erring nursing home staff to stop exploiting and degrading the vulnerable elderly. They should stop taking pictures and videos of their patients and posting these materials on social media. A report from 10 News WTSP reiterates on the said incident.
Fernando Gutierrez, a local advocate for elderly patients, says that the practice is really disgusting; he can’t imagine that this kind of abuse is happening in nursing homes today. He adds that he is saddened by the abuse that is being perpetrated by nursing home workers, as well as the growing trend of sharing their disgusting practices on the internet.
Recently, two of these nursing home workers were arrested after they recorded and posted on Snapchat their 84-year-old, half-naked patient. In the video, they were laughing at her while she was using the bathroom.
Humiliating the elderly
The two nursing aides were also busted when their Snapchat videos were discovered. In their videos, they were also degrading their patients. One showed them asking their lady patient about marijuana and her sex life as she was sitting on the toilet; another showed them yelling in the ear of a sleeping patient; a third showed them labeling another patient as “Chucky’s Bride.”
Another video of a nursing home worker also surfaced, wherein the nursing home worker kicks a man’s wheelchair as he was calling out for his long-deceased wife. The patient had dementia. They captioned their Snapchat video: “Jerk.”
Gutierrez said that these occurrences are sick and disgusting. He was shocked to see healthcare workers stooping so low as to take wantonly advantage of geriatric patients, the most vulnerable category of patients there is.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services called on all states to check on the nursing homes in their jurisdiction, making sure that they implement policies regarding training their employee on the proper use of cell phones. Staff and nursing home workers (who are not registered nurses in most cases), should be forbidden from taking pictures of their patients that serve to demean and degrade their dignity. Nursing homes should also put in place policies that process and investigate complaints in a timely and rapid manner. They should also be able to report violations quickly to impose proper discipline on their staff.
Silas Davidiuk has a 96-year-old mother residing in Clearwater’s Highland Pines Nursing Home, and he is disgusted with such practices. He hopes that his mom doesn’t have to go through such humiliation from abusive nursing home workers. He believes that these workers should not be allowed to use cell phones during working hours.
In response, Highland Pines issued a statement to 10 News WTSP saying that their staff is not permitted to use a smartphone in the vicinity of the patient care areas for whatever reason. First-time violators will be warned, but if they violate a second time, they will be fired.
Choosing the right nursing home
On choosing and inquiring about nursing homes, Gutierrez advised clients to ask whether the nursing home in question has policies that safeguard against such behavior. These homes should protect their patients because they cannot protect themselves.
Thirty-five other cases have been under investigation since 2012, although investigators understand that more cases occur, just that they are never reported. The latest case of abuse was only caught almost three months after the videos have been posted on Snapchat; if not for a fellow employee who reported their posts, the case would never have seen the light of day.
Florida’s Center for Cyber Security gives the following advice to protect your loved ones in nursing homes, stated below:
Ask your prospective nursing home about their cell phone use policies during working hours, as well as social media usage by staff. Ask them regarding the kind of training their staff receives in relation to social media, and their policy concerning violations. Relatives should visit their loved ones on a regular basis, and observe the staff during the visit if they have cell phones within easy reach. Relatives should do their homework and ensure that the nursing facility has the proper licenses as well as acceptable inspection ratings.