Assisted living facilities have a duty to make sure that its residents and client are free from abuse of any kind, including sexual abuse, according to Minn. Stat. § 144.A.44, subd. 1(15).
It is important to note that unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are not bound by strict federal guidelines and laws. As a result, there is a lower national standardization of care under assisted living facilities.
Assisted living facilities are entrusted by both the state of Minnesota and the individuals and their families under such care to only hire employees who do not present safety risks to the residents. And though there are federal laws mandating any employee who works at a long-term care facility to be screened for criminal history, sexual abuse still happens.
There are no circumstances in which it is acceptable for an employee of an assisted living facility to engage in any sexual acts or contact with a resident of the facility. There are no exceptions, even if the victim is able to consent to such an activity.
Every facility has an obligation to report any suspected instances of sexual abuse according to Minnesota state law. As a result, every facility should have a documented set of policies designed to prevent, limit, and report sexual abuse.
Because of the high incidence of sexual abuse in eldercare facilities, there is a dedicated “hotline” set up to help field and investigate allegations of elder abuse, including sexual abuse.
According to a report to the U.S. Senate, residents who have some sort of dementia are at a much greater risk of sexual abuse. The same is true for residents who lack a close family member, or if there is no one close to the resident actively participating in the resident’s care plan.
Though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and various official state watchdog organizations receive thousands of complaints and allegations of sexual abuse each year, sexual abuse is still likely under-represented in the data figures.
In a separate study published in The Gerontologist, sexual abuse has been labeled “the most hidden form of elder abuse,” and constitutes less than one percent of all reported and substantiated investigations. If anything, substantiated reports of sexual abuse represent only the tip of the iceberg.
The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care, including the failure to protect vulnerable adults from sexual abuse. If your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a care facility, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.