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Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes—Part 4

Residents of nursing homes are vulnerable adults who are legally protected from sexual abuse.  Regulations over nursing home care are more stringent than other healthcare institutions. Specifically, a nursing home’s management – including the nursing home administrator and the director of nursing – is chiefly responsible for preventing, identifying, investigating, and correcting resident sexual abuse.

Standards of care dictate that facilities must provide orientation training as well as consistent and continuous reinforcement instruction to facility employees regarding the prevention of sexual abuse. This training must include issues related to abuse prohibition practices; how to appropriately care for residents with cognitive impairments; and how to report knowledge of abusive conduct without fear or reprisal.

Sexual abuse of nursing home residents is well recognized in the nursing home industry. Evidence of this includes:

  • Nursing home statues mandate criminal background checks for employees, especially nursing staff;
  • There are multiple federal and state laws devoted to resident abuse;
  • No licensed healthcare provider in the United States is subject to the level of intense consumer and regulatory scrutiny as a nursing home;
  • Nursing home statutes and administrative rules require verification of licenses and/or certification, including a determination of whether caregivers are in good standing according to State registries;
  • Regulatory mandates specify a minimum number of in-service education sessions per year on the topic of resident sexual abuse;
  • Internal nursing home policies and procedures are devoted to the prevention, early detection, prompt reporting, treatment, and thorough investigation of resident sexual abuse; and
  • There are nursing home abuse hotlines in every state, including Minnesota, to field and investigate any reports of sexual abuse.

In a study of 284 cases of elder sexual abuse, 22.6% of the elders were sexually assaulted in institutional locations. 34.1% of the victims were in their 80s. 60% of the victims had cognitive impairment or dementia.

Nursing home residents are at increased risk for sexual abuse because of their reliance and dependence on facility staff for their safety, protection, and care.

As many as 40% of residents in nursing homes have significant cognitive impairment, many of whom suffer from dementia. Residents with such diagnoses are at a much greater risk of sexual abuse.

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.