Protecting Loved Ones from Their “Protectors”: Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

You did your research, you visited the places you liked best, you worked out the finances ever so carefully, and you’re well on your way to providing your mom or dad with the care they need — and achieving some peace of mind for yourself. Care facilities and nursing homes are where your loved ones are supposed to get the round-the-clock help and attention they need, and you trust these facilities to do just that.

But what happens if those same places end up violating their commitment to take care of your loved ones — even when they have the highest ratings in your town or state?

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Case Shocks the Nation

You may remember hearing about the woman in an Arizona facility that gave birth in December 2018, even though she had been in a vegetative state for over a decade, and currently still is. The suspect was one of the male nurses in charge of the victim’s care, and was arrested. Investigations are still underway to find out how the facility did not notice the woman’s pregnancy until her medical distress while giving birth.

Senate Hearing on Nursing Home Sexual Assaults

Sadly, sexual abuse at care facilities is rampant across the nation, and yet little has been done to put the discussion at the forefront of people’s minds.

Thus far, nursing home and care facilities who have been cited for some form of abuse have been able to fly under the radar because so little has been done to keep them accountable. Not to mention, there is a high standard for proving sexual assault, so cases often go unreported.

On March 6, 2019, similar stories emerged during a senate hearing convened for the sole purpose of investigating the nursing home abuse crisis. Witnesses recounted their stories to lawmakers of how their loved ones experienced sexual abuse at the hands of their caretakers. Notably, one witness had placed her mother in a facility that was ranked at the highest possible level for quality of resident care by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). However, it had also been fined for verbal and physical abuse.

Reforms to Long-Term Healthcare Facility Reporting

As lawmakers await reports from watchdog reporting agencies, it would seem reforms are on the horizon regarding how nursing homes and care facilities are run. CMS announced that it was updating their online Nursing Home Compare and the Five-Star Quality Rating System, which helps families find and compare facilities for their loved ones. It also announced that it was updating its guidelines that identify red flags in those situations.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – Red Flags

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care released the following checklist that may signal sexual abuse and neglect:

  • Bruises around inner thighs, the genital area, or breasts
  • Unexplained genital infections or STD’s
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, pain, or irritation
  • New difficulty sitting or walking
  • Torn, stained, or bloodied underclothing
  • Extreme agitation
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Panic attacks or emerging PTSD symptoms
  • Suicide attempts
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in behavior including:
    • Fear or avoidance of a person or place
    • Fear of being left alone or the dark
    • Increased nightmares and/or disturbed sleep
  • Victims of dementia will exhibit anxiety or excessive fear around the person providing or tending to their care. They may also engage in more aggressive behaviors.

Click here for common signs of general abuse and neglect at care facilities.

North Carolina Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Investigations Underway

If someone you know in a nursing home, rest home, assisted living, or senior care facility has complained about any mistreatment, we urge you to take them seriously. Ask questions. Get the facts. Talk to management. View their medical records. Place a hidden camera in the room like this Raleigh woman did.

And contact us immediately if you suspect abuse. You may be eligible for compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of care and family duties
  • Loss of the victim’s earnings
  • Wrongful death
  • Funeral expenses for the victim

The statute of limitations for reporting is a short window. We are available 24/7 to offer you a free case evaluation. You can use our live chat feature or send a message through our secure and confidential form on this page.

Contact us or call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 to find out if one of our North Carolina lawyers may be able to help you try to protect your loved one from elder abuse.