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New Report Shines Light on Dark Issue of Sexual Assault in Nursing Homes

When families make the decision to put their loved ones in a nursing home, it usually happens because the family is not equipped to provide the kind of care that their loved one needs – and they hope that the nursing home can.

While many nursing homes take good care of their residents, too many nursing home residents find themselves in very vulnerable situations. Perhaps they do not have their full mental faculties. Many times they cannot walk, bathe, or use the bathroom without assistance. Those vulnerabilities can make them targets, and many rest homes do not do enough to protect their residents from abusive workers.

A recent investigative report from CNN looked into the issue in detail and discovered that more than 1,000 nursing homes have been cited for mishandling suspected sex abuse cases.

It is not always possible to know what is going on when you are not there, but you can vet a facility before having your loved one admitted, learn to recognize signs of abuse and make a report if you suspect that your loved one has been assaulted. Legal action may also be an option to prevent further abuse and seek compensation for your loved one’s injuries.

What CNN Discovered About Nursing Home Sex Abuse

In investigating the issue of sexual abuse of nursing home residents, CNN discovered that while the government has done reports on abuse in nursing homes, there is no comprehensive national data available on the number of cases reported of sexual abuse in nursing homes.

More than 16,000 complaints of sexual abuse have been reported since 2000 in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, according to data from the Administration for Community Living. But this number only accounts for cases where the state long-term care ombudsman got involved. The total number is almost certainly higher.

By analyzing inspection reports between 2013 and 2016, CNN discovered that more than 1,000 nursing homes were cited for mishandling or failing to prevent rape, sexual assault, or sexual abuse during that time. Nearly 100 of the facilities cited received multiple citations during the same period.

Unfortunately, according to the report, despite issues with some nursing homes, it is uncommon for facilities to be shut down, because the residents often have nowhere else to go. The result is that nursing homes with violations generally pay fines and move on.

How to Vet Your Loved One’s Nursing Home   

One way of checking up on your loved one’s nursing home is by investigating to see if it has been cited for sexual abuse or other elder abuse in the last three years. This is not foolproof, since a nursing home could have cases of abuse that go unreported, but it is a good start.

You can check reports on the nursing home by going to the federal Nursing Home Compare website. After searching for the nursing home, click on the health inspection rating for a summary of the nursing home’s last inspection. From there, you can click on “view all health inspections” and then view individual reports by date. You can also click on “Penalties” from the nursing home’s main page to see if fines were assessed due to problems with a prior inspection.

Some states have their own websites that you can check as well. If you are in North Carolina, you their website is here and you can file a complaint here.  For South Carolina, you can see their website here or file a complaint here.

Also, if your loved one or family member has complaints about the nursing home, take their complaints seriously, investigate the matter yourself, and insist that the nursing home investigate as well.

You should also talk to an attorney if you believe your loved one has suffered sexual or other abuse in a nursing home.  Not only can legal action potentially prevent further abuse, it could also provide compensation for your loved one’s losses.  Please call Grimes Teich Anderson today if you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home.


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