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Nursing home abuse and neglect includes social media abuse

How many of us use Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat on a daily basis? Many people in Kentucky use these apps on their smartphones frequently, and sometimes do not give much thought to how their posts will affect others. However, this can be a dangerous situation.

Increasingly, workers at nursing homes are photographing or videotaping residents in inappropriate situations and then posting these photos and videos on various social media platforms. This type of nursing home abuse and neglect is known as social media abuse. In fact, according to ProPublica, between 2012 to 2015 there were at least 65 known instances of social media abuse in nursing homes. However, the actual number may be much higher. For example, in one instance a photograph was taken depicting a nursing home employee holding fecal matter along with the backside of a resident, which was posted on Snapchat. Unfortunately, the mental abuse such incidents causes the residents and their families can last a long time.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have asked state health departments to ensure that they have enacted policies that disallow the taking or distributing of inappropriate videos and photographs of residents in nursing homes. The need for such policies was made clear when a nursing home worker in Iowa distributed a photograph of a resident whose pants were down and covered in fecal matter. At that time, there were no government policies that would have held the worker accountable for the abuse.

Social media platforms are also starting to weigh in on this serious issue. Snapchat and Facebook have both released statements that they are working to stop such photos and videos from being posted on their platforms.

Social media abuse may be a new addition to the litany of actions that constitute nursing home abuse and neglect, but it deserves attention and should never be tolerated. It is a serious form of abuse that can have long-lasting negative effects on its victims. It is important to hold those who commit such abuse accountable by taking legal action against them when appropriate.

Source: care2.com, "A New Shocking Kind of Nursing Home Abuse," Sept. 7, 2017

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