Nursing home abuse is not a new issue but the way in which it occurs has changed. Social media now provides another avenue for abusers to harm nursing home residents. A recent case in Iowa is a perfect example of how laws regulating the use of social media and nursing home treatment are out of date.
Caretaker Abuse Via Social Media
A Certified Nursing Assistant posted a photo of a resident who was partially undressed and incontinent with her own feces. When the state health officials reviewed the incident they did not find it to be illegal because her genitals were not visible in the picture, and therefore it could not be considered "sexual exploitation by a caretaker." Though the nursing home fired the caretaker, without a mark on her record she is free to get another job as a CNA elsewhere in the state.
Changing Policies Regarding Social Media in Nursing Homes
Incidents like this one are prompting those who advocate for the elderly to seek change from various parties including:
- Nursing homes providing extra training to address the issue with current and prospective employees and making social media abuse grounds for termination.
- Some social media sites are updating their privacy and abuse policies.
- Lawmakers and lobbyists that advocate for the elderly are also working to redraft and suggest new laws that would help to protect the elderly and other vulnerable persons against social media exploitation by a caregiver.
- Some prosecutors are working to find existing laws that can be applied to the situation and land some type of conviction, such as invasion of privacy.
Fighting for the Elderly Now
In many of these cases, those who are advocates for their elderly relative may have success in gaining both justice and compensation for their loved ones by pursuing civil action with the help of a nursing home neglect attorney. These lawyers can take steps that will hold nursing homes and workers responsible for proper training, screening, and supervision of their employees by pursuing financial compensation for the residents and their families.