Suffolk, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced a 15 count indictment charging two certified nurse aides (CNAs) with photographing eleven nursing home residents at three separate facilities, one of whom is also charged with texting one of the photographs to a friend. The pictures were taken without the knowledge or consent of the victims, many of whom were incapable of consenting and depicted bedsores and other disturbing images.
Schneiderman was quoted as saying “These illegal actions by two certified nursing home aides are abusive and alarming,” “These aides engaged in actions that are illegal and will not be tolerated in New York. The people engaged to take care of our most vulnerable citizens have a special responsibility, and I will do everything in my power to protect the right of every New Yorker to safe, respectful and quality care.” (The complete news release can be accessed using the link below.)
Fortunately these situations are not common in our homes however it is our responsibility to have abuse prevention protocols in place. We cannot and should not be comfortable assuming that providing training and setting expectations for our caregivers will always protect our residents, we need to be realistic. There are people who will take advantage of the frail elderly even when systems are in place to prevent this type of abuse.
Although social media, electronic devices, digital cameras, smart phones, etc. are wonderful devices there are times and places where these devices should be limited. Does your current policy forbid the use of these devices in resident care areas? If not, consider including a “zero tolerance” statement for non-compliance, train your caregivers on facility expectations and include ongoing monitoring in management rounds. You can’t expect what you don’t inspect!
HealthCap recommends reviewing your current policies and procedures, training programs, monitoring systems and resident/family satisfaction feedback. If you need assistance with the development or review of your current policies please contact your HealthCap Risk Manager.