Martin + Fielding

A tragic trend: Social media abuse in nursing homes

Selecting a nursing home for a loved one usually follows extensive research and multiple visits to various facilities. Once you place your disabled or elderly family member in the care of qualified professionals, you establish a strong, hopefully unbreakable bond of trust.

Discovering evidence of abuse or neglect shatters that bond.

Exploitation of the elderly and disabled is no longer limited to violent acts or callous disregard. The growth of social media websites has created a new and equally sinister category. Serious violations of privacy and trust are tragically "trending" online. The disabled and the elderly are being reduced to subject matter in photos and videos shared on social media by those responsible for their well-being.

Abuse via Snapchat, Instagram and other social media sites is seemingly non-violent in nature. However, some postings by nursing home staff actually document violence, neglect and harassment against people unable to defend themselves.

Examples of exploitation and privacy violations appearing online

ProPublica recently updated a list of specific incidences of social media abuse in nursing homes occurring since 2012.

  • An assistant recorded the assault of a 97-year old dementia patient with a nylon strap. Posted on Snapchat, the employees were heard laughing as the resident cried, "Don't! Don't!"
  • A former nurse aid shared a video on Facebook showing verbal harassment and hair pulling of an elderly wheelchair-bound resident.
  • Workers shared nude or partially nude photos of elderly residents covered in feces on Snapchat.
  • A nursing home staff member posted a Snapchat photo of a resident on a toilet, showing bare skin.
  • A resident suffering from Alzheimer's had their name and picture posted on a nursing assistant's Instagram page.
  • A Snapchat posting featured a picture and video of a resident with "Jerk!" written across it.

Take proactive steps to protect rights and safety

Residing in a nursing home entitles your loved one to safety and security. You also deserve peace of mind that the environment is free of violence, neglect and exploitation. Discovering that your loved one was used as fodder for a Facebook post requires you to take proactive steps.

Your first priority is to remove your loved one from an unsafe environment. From there, you need legal help to hold the elder care facility accountable. Retaining a skilled and experienced nursing home abuse lawyer represents you first step towards the justice your family member deserves.

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