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Abuse and neglect in nursing homes can take many different forms, and it’s often the family members of a resident who are the first to come forward with claims of abuse. However, more residents are suffering from nursing home sexual abuse, which can occur at the hands of other residents or staff members.
Many residents who have become the victims of nursing home sexual abuse may be unable to speak up for themselves. The ability to express lack of consent may be more difficult for a patient suffering from cognitive decline, for example.
Data indicates that instances of nursing home sexual abuse are on the rise and more nursing homes find themselves facing these claims and lawsuits. In many cases in which residents can’t speak up or don’t feel safe doing so, the abuse may have been going on for some time before authorities are made aware.
Exposes of nursing home sexual abuse have helped to raise some awareness about the issue and to initiate a conversation about prevention and punishment for the crime where that is applicable.
Although awareness of the issue has improved slightly, elder sexual abuse continues to be a serious problem and often one that occurs behind closed doors. Family members also play a crucial role in recognizing the signs of nursing home sexual abuse and stepping in before the situation continues.
Sexual abuse of elders can take numerous different forms, but all are based on the concept of unwanted, sexually motivated behavior. Hands-on assaults can range from touching all the way to rape. Other behavior might include sexual threats or use of pornographic materials.
While some staff members may be implicated as perpetrators of the abuse directly, this is not always the case. Many facilities have received increasing complaints about resident-on-resident sexual abuse. This happens mostly in facilities in which appropriate staff numbers cannot be maintained, meaning that many residents are left alone and vulnerable to attacks.
Advocates pushing for better awareness and understanding of nursing home sexual abuse say that part of the problem has to do with lack of proper training for the staff. In some states, the level of training required for a nursing home employee is one-tenth of what’s required of hairdressers and similarly-licensed professionals.
Workers may not be aware of the signs of sexual abuse or know how to respond to it when it happens.
Family members are usually the first line of defense who discover signs of sexual or other forms of abuse.
A family member who is suddenly uncomfortable with certain other residents or staff members may be a clue that sexual abuse has occurred.
Major changes in eating, sudden weight loss, and a change in the emotional disposition of a loved one should all be taken seriously.
Anyone who has suffered nursing home sexual abuse and has sustained injuries may be eligible to pursue a claim against the facility.
Speaking with a lawyer may be the best course of action for family members who are trying to figure out what to do. Contact the lawyers at McDonald Worley today to learn more about your rights.