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Protecting the Dignity of Nursing Home Residents in Chicago

back view of a senior.jpgNursing homes have a duty of care that includes protecting the dignity and general welfare of residents in their facilities. This includes protecting residents from verbal, physical, and emotional abuse. When nursing facility personnel neglect residents or deliberately cause them harm, they can cause permanent psychological and emotional trauma to the individual.

Harassment in Nursing Home Facilities

Harassment can take many forms. It can involve verbal taunts, sexual innuendos, or threats of violence. The goal of the harasser is to embarrass and demean the recipient of the abuse. Often, the purpose of the harassment is to instill a sense of fear and inferiority in the victim so the harasser can gain control over the individual.

Nursing home residents who are isolated or suffer from mental impairments are most likely to be targets of harassers. The more isolated the individual, the more susceptible he or she is to theft, sexual assault, and acts of physical violence.

Harassment can quickly evolve into more serious crimes. One emerging trend involves the sharing and posting of explicit photos of elderly residents. These photos violate the resident's right to privacy and their release can inflict permanent psychological harm on the victim.

Understanding Resident Rights

Nursing home residents have the right to pursue legal remedy against their abuser(s). This includes the right to sue the facility or individuals working in the facility. Residents also have the right to receive visitors and expect reasonable protection of personal property. They have the right to voice concerns about treatment or deficiencies within the facility. Finally, residents have the right to treatment with dignity and respect in all matters. 

Protecting Loved Ones from Elder Abuse

Family members and caregivers can help protect their loved one's dignity. Closely monitoring the individual's physical, mental, and emotional health can help family members detect signs of harassment, assault, and other forms of abuse. 

In the United States, nursing home facilities are prohibited from discriminating against residents based on age, gender, religion, race, etc. These are Civil Rights violations and nursing home facilities can be held liable for the actions of employees who are guilty of discrimination. When elder abuse is suspected, family members and other loved ones should thoroughly document their concerns before pursuing legal action. It is also vital to ensure the individual receives the proper counseling and is removed from the facility to prevent further abuse.  

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