There appears no getting away from nursing home abuse this month as nearly 300 Nashville nursing home residents look for new homes and facilitated care after Medicare and Medicaid was cut this week form McKendree Village for nursing home violations. Meanwhile, state representatives heard from Tennessee nursing home care advocates this week on the need to put more emphasis on home and community-based care, as I discussed in this previous nursing home abuse blog. Lastly, and most unfortunately, Nashville police are charging a nursing home worker with the rape of a nursing home resident.
Nursing home sexual abuse is a difficult subject to discuss. Unfortunately, this difficulty does not prevent it from being issue. No, nursing home sexual abuse is more common than we comfortably admit–and too often more common than nursing home staff and law enforcement care to publicize, investigate, or acknowledge. The case this week fits the usually mold for nursing home sexual abuse. I hope that my reporting its details here in the Tennessee Law Blog may help readers identify sexual abuse in those trusting a Tennessee nursing home to their for the care and protection.
After allegations were made in May, last Wednesday (12/05/07) police finally arrested the 44-year-old male medical worker accused of the aggravated rape of a 70-year-old female nursing home resident at Madison Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. After a thorough investigation and conclusive DNA evidence, a warrant was finally issued for the nurses assistant’s arrest. Though it is unusual that the health care worker did not have a criminal history, his choice of victim for sexual abuse is common for nursing home abuse cases: The nursing home victim had dementia.
Dementia patients have a higher frequency of nursing home sexual abuse because predators suspect their accounts will not believed. One must wonder if the victim’s dementia was the reason it took Nashville police over half a year to bring charges against the male worker. Fortunately, this was not a case of the nursing home dragging its feet; Madison Health and Rehabilitation staff began an immediate investigation and reported the allegations of sexual abuse to the police. The Tennessee Department of Health is also conducting its own investigation to assess how this rape was permitted to occur and what can be done to ensure no other rapes or other forms of sexual abuse will occur in the nursing home.
Prevent Sexual Violence in Tennessee Nursing Homes
Nursing home sexual abuse is a delicate subject. Most nursing home residents do not feel comfortable discussing issues of sexuality and abuse. Sometimes they feel intimidated by staff or a sense of powerlessness. Sometimes they feel guilty, as if they were somehow to blame for the rape or inappropriate sexual conduct.
It is important not to compound feelings of guilt or shame by avoiding discussing the subject if it concerns sexual matters. Just because your nursing home loved one has a history of fibbing or confusing fantasy with reality does not mean you should ignore their accounts of sexual abuse out-of-hand. Such allegations are serious. It does not matter how many times they have “cried wolf.” This lack of belief is exactly what nursing home sexual predators look for.
My legal staff and I work throughout the state with Tennessee victims and families of Tennessee victims of sexual and physical nursing home abuse. For a free consultation, fill out our quick nursing home attorney contact form.