When Mary (name changed for confidentiality) moved into a nursing home following a stroke, she didn’t know that two of her fellow residents were registered sex offenders. That’s because most states don’t have a law that requires background checks to be completed or notice to be given to nursing home residents and staff.
According to a 2017 survey conducted by CNN, the federal government has cited more than 1,000 nursing homes mishandling or failing to prevent alleged cases of sex abuse – including rape and assault – between 2013 and 2016. Despite this and numerous other reports of sexual abuse, there remains no comprehensive national data on how many such cases have been reported in facilities housing the elderly.
Allowing Sexual Abuse to Go Unchecked
While many nursing home employees promptly report abusers to authorities, all too many facilities make it possible for sexual assaults to go unchecked. In those facilities, allegations of sexual abuse are routinely questioned or dismissed because the victims had cognitive conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. Staff often lack the specific training needed to spot sexual abuse, preventing reports of abuse from ever reaching the authorities.
Still other nursing homes put the reputation and safety of the facility ahead of the residents’ welfare for fear that bringing investigations could expose other issues or threaten a nursing home with closure or costly lawsuits.
Steps You Should Take to Make Sure Your Loved One Is Safe
Given that situation, what can you do to make sure your loved one is being placed in a safe nursing home? Consider taking the following steps:
- Visit the facility. Talk to the administrator, nurses, and staff. Ask other families about the care their loved one receives at the facility.
- Tell the nursing home’s administrator and staff about your loved one’s specific needs. Ask how they will meet those needs, as well as what policies are in place to ensure residents’ needs are met. Ask whether the facility has enough staff to attend to all of its residents’ needs.
- Ask what systems are in place to protect residents. How does the home ensure the safety of every resident?
- If the nursing home cares for patients with mental illnesses, ask if those residents are in a secured unit and what policies are in place to handle residents with aggressive behaviors.
- Check health and safety inspections and other records about nursing homes on the Medicare website. Review the website’s information about the facility’s staffing and compare it with the responses to staffing questions the nursing home has provided to you.
- Ask if the nursing home has any registered sex offenders living there. If so, ask if they are in a secured unit and what safety measures are in place to protect other residents. Also ask if the home has additional staff to care for residents who are registered sex offenders.
If you do not receive satisfactory answers to these questions, or if you suspect your loved already living in a nursing home may be the victim of sexual abuse, don’t sit still. For the sake of your loved one and the home’s other residents, contact the authorities. You can also call our experienced nursing home attorneys today. All consultations are free and, if we represent you or your loved one, you pay nothing unless we win. Call 800-794-0444 today.