Is Your Loved One A Victim Of Social Media Abuse?

social media

Recently, online news publication, ProPublica, “Journalism for the Public Interest”, posted 36 incidents (from 2012) of elder humiliation and abuse in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers shared photos or videos of residents on social media networks. The incident details come from government inspection reports, court cases and media reports and depict helpless facility-care residents in embarrassing nude or partially nude poses or actually being assaulted.

We noticed that the social media venues began years ago with permanent posts on Facebook and Instagram and graduated today to disappearing (or so they thought) posts on Snapchat.

Several disturbing true incidents cited:


Date: March 2014

Facility: Rosewood Care Center

City: St. Charles

State: IL

Type of facility: Nursing home

How it became public: Government inspection report, news story, criminal charges

Social media site: Snapchat

Description: One nursing home assistant recorded another using a nylon strap to lightly slap the face of a 97-year-old resident with dementia. The video was posted on Snapchat. On it, the resident could be heard crying out “Don’t! Don’t!” as the employees laughed. They were fired, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of battery and were sentenced to probation and community service. Ivy Gleeson, the nursing home administrator, told the Chicago Tribune in 2014 that the two women were fired. “In our facility, resident safety is our utmost concern,” Gleeson said. She did not return calls and emails from ProPublica seeking comment.


Date: February 2015

Facility: Autumn Care Center (now Price Road Health and Rehabilitation Center)

City: Newark

State: OH

Type of facility: Nursing home

How it became public: Government inspection report

Social media site: Snapchat

Description: Someone from the community called the facility after being disturbed by a nursing assistant’s posting on Snapchat of two residents lying in bed in hospital gowns being coached to say “I’m in love with the coco” (lyrics of a gangster rap song). As the male resident said the words, a banner appeared across his chest that said, “Hahahhahaha omg” with three laughing emoticons; as the female repeated the words, a banner across her chest said, “Got these hoes trained.” The female resident’s son said his mother would have been embarrassed because she had previously worked as a church secretary for 30 years. After facility staff learned of the conduct, they allowed the nursing assistant to complete her shift. The director of nursing said she did not send her home because “she didn’t know the identity of the residents on the video and didn’t feel it was abuse.” The nursing assistant subsequently resigned. “A systemic breakdown in implementing the facility abuse policy was identified,” inspectors wrote. The home’s current owner, Greystone Healthcare Management, took over days after the incident. A spokeswoman said it “provides extensive, on-going training, support and oversight to insure that we provide patient centered care.”

I can’t begin to express the enormous anger I felt in reading the above sickening recounts of elder and infirm abuse. We need to protect our most vulnerable members of society.

So how do we fight back?  Our suggestion is to insist that the nursing home allow your elderly or infirm relative to have a smartphone or laptop in their room. Install LogMein or any other remote access app on the device.  You should be allowed to visually access or record the patient 24/7.   I’m sure the facility will cite privacy issues but the question is –   for whom? Is their concern for our relative’s privacy or their private actions with our relative?

Feel welcome to provide us feedback.  We will all get old (as my Dad used to say, if we are lucky) and will be in positions where we will need the help of others.  Now is the time to ensure proper monitoring of our elderly, sick or injured while we face the issue head on.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

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