A 23-year-old Texas nursing home employee has been arrested for injuring the elderly after he reportedly played a “joke” on an elderly resident that vehemently crossed ethical lines. Someone who received disturbing images from the employee via Snapchat took a screenshot and reported the incident. This led to the employee’s suspension from his employer, Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Duval, and subsequent arrest.
Cruel Joke Crosses Criminal Lines
According to media reports, the supposed joke began when the nurse’s aide posted images to social media app Snapchat of an elderly resident with what appeared to be feces on her hand. Then, the nurse’s aide tickles the resident’s nose with a feather of some sort. The incident was described as basically “rubbing feces all over her face”.
The individual that reported the incident replied to the nurse’s aide that the images were “sick”, and that he could lose his job for such behavior. The nurse’s aide reportedly did not believe that anyone would report the incident, and laughed when reproached for the cruel behavior.
Investigation Leads to Arrest
The incident was reported to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), which confirmed that the nurse’s aide had been suspended while the investigation continued. Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has worked with authorities throughout the investigation. On April 5, 2017, the Pflugerville Police Department dispatched to the residence of the nurse’s aide and arrested him on charges of injury to the elderly.
Under Texas law, injuring the elderly is classified as:
- An individual causing bodily injury or serious bodily injury to a person 65 years or older.
- Behavior that intentionally or knowingly causes serious bodily injury, mental injury, or mental impairment is a First Degree Felony.
- Behavior that intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury is a Third Degree Felony.
- Behavior that is deemed reckless causing bodily or mental injury is considered a State Jail Felony.
These definitions only refer to the criminal injuring the elderly charges filed in a case like this one. These charges do not include any additional legal action that the family of the victim may pursue, such as a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
To find out more about nursing home abuse, criminal allegations, and the legal rights of every nursing home resident, contact Brown Wharton & Brothers today.
Case Highlights a Broad Problem in Nursing Homes
In recent years, there have been increasing reports of nursing home abuse involving social media apps and websites. In 2015, ProPublica released a report suggesting that Snapchat is one of the most common platforms for sharing dehumanizing, embarrassing, or otherwise inappropriate photos of elderly residents. The report further suggested dozens of nursing home abuse allegations, including several with criminal charges attached, have occurred since 2012.
Reports like this, and cases like the one discussed above highlight a broad problem in nursing homes, and the need for more strict guidelines about use of social media among employees. Further, there is an increasing interest in how best to preserve and protect resident rights and privacy.
It has been noted that there is the potential benefit of apps like Snapchat capturing unethical or illegal behavior in a way that otherwise may not be recorded, there is still the issue of how reporting of these incidents will be managed. It is up to nursing homes to implement and follow through with aggressive training and disciplinary plans that uphold state and federal law and speak to the best interests of residents first and foremost.
Caring for the Rights of the Elderly
Injuring the elderly is never acceptable and is taken extremely seriously in most states. Texas law is clear about the rights of elderly Texans. Title 40 Part I, Chapter 19 of the Texas Administrative Code states that all nursing home residents are entitled to a certain degree of quality care. Nursing homes are required to ensure that every resident has the necessary services and supervision to maintain the highest possible level of physical, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing.
Part of this responsibility is adequately screening and training employees. While there are certainly individuals who deceive even the most conscientious employer, nursing home administrators and staff must keep a keen eye on the behavior and attitude of employees. They further have the responsibility of reporting any suspected deviations in nursing home policies, state and federal law, or acceptable standards of care.
Anyone who suspects that an elderly friend or loved one is being abused by a nursing home employee, caregiver, or even a friend or family member should speak up. Elderly Americans are among the most vulnerable and deserving of protection and quality care. To report suspected elder abuse, contact one of the following organizations applicable in your state, or speak with a nursing home abuse attorney:
- Office on Aging
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman
- Department of Elder Affairs
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
Most states have these, and other, agencies poised to investigate suspected elderly abuse and protect the rights of all elderly individuals.
Contact an Attorney Who Cares
If you suspect someone of injuring the elderly in any way, you may also find it helpful to contact a nursing home abuse attorney who can advise you about the rights of the elderly, the responsibilities of caregivers, and legal options to pursue justice.
At Brown Wharton & Brothers, our team of attorneys has managed all sorts of cases involving elderly abuse or abuse in nursing homes. We can help you get answers and will fight to protect the rights and future of your friend or loved one. Fill out our online form to schedule your free case review.