The residents of nursing care homes are seldom loved and taken care of. They rarely go out or are visited by anyone. But what’s worse is that some people inside couldn’t care less.
Advances in technology and social media platforms and applications have allowed us to remain connected with one another nearly anytime, anywhere. Caregivers and their loved ones have used these tools as a source of support, entertainment, communication, and much more. But, as with many great inventions, there is a downside to this proliferation of mobile devices and social media. Unfortunately, the law has not caught up with these new technological advances, and vulnerable demographics have fallen victim to those who use these tools without ethical considerations or respect for others’ rights. One of these increasingly victimized groups is elderly and ill individuals who are receiving long-term care services.
March 2016: “A nursing assistant was fired after sharing a photo on Snapchat of an elderly and incapacitated resident with his pants down and feces on his legs, shirt and left hand. The resident had extreme cognitive impairments due to dementia.”
February 2015: “While talking to a friend on FaceTime, the live video chatting service from Apple, a nurse pointed the camera at a resident. At the time of the incident, an aide was washing the resident in bed following an incontinence episode. The aide said the nurse placed the cell phone in the resident’s face and demanded that he/she say hi on camera to the person with whom the nurse had been talking.”
January 2016: “A nursing assistant admitted to taking video of a 93-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease sitting on her bed in a bra with no underwear or pants. She shared the video on Snapchat with friends.”
July 2015: “Two nurse’s aides face charges of elder abuse for posting humiliating videos of residents on social media. According to the Lowell Sun newspaper, one video shows an elderly resident sitting on a commode while dressed and being asked about her sex life and if she smoked marijuana. Another shows the same resident sleeping when one of the aides yells in her ear, waking her up.”
September 2015: “Three personal care assistants were fired after an employee took a photo of a resident on the toilet and posted it on Snapchat.”
All of these are actual, reported cases of social media abuse in American nursing homes. In December of 2015 ProPublica released “Nursing Home Workers Share Explicit Photos of Residents on Snapchat,” a report aimed at raising awareness of this new type of abuse in long-term care settings.