Officials are working to update Iowa’s dependent abuse law to include violations to nursing home residents’ privacy following incidences of employees posting compromising pictures of residents to social media sites.
Currently, Iowa’s dependent abuse law, updated in 2008 and before the current social media revolution, does not protect nursing home residents from long term care employees snapping and sending pictures online as long as the photos are not sexual in nature, which would include showing certain parts of the body. Unfortunately, the law, as currently written, is falling woefully short on protecting the elderly from sexual exploitation and abuse in the digital age.
Recently, an Iowa certified nursing assistant escaped charges despite posting degrading and humiliating pictures of a dementia-addled resident to SnapChat simply because her photos did not meet the definition of sexual exploitation. As a result, the employee remains eligible to work in any nursing home in the state. Back in 2012, ProPublica, documented 47 cases of inappropriate social media posts by nursing home workers. With the explosion of social media since 2012, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Until the law is updated to address incidences of nursing home employees using social media or electronic devices to the detriment of the residents in their care, nursing homes can only hope that training and diligence will fill the gap. For many families who have a loved one being cared for in a nursing home, this may be an unsettling prospect.
To protect your family member from abuse or neglect in a nursing home, it is important to be alert to the signs of problems and stay in regular communication with your family member and nursing home staff. If you suspect abuse or neglect, it is advisable to visit with an attorney that has experience with nursing home neglect and elder abuse cases.
Contact an Experienced Iowa Elder Abuse Attorney
If your loved has suffered elder abuse or sexual exploitation by long-term care employees, contact Hemminger Law Firm. We provide personalized, focused, dedicated legal service to those seeking justice for elder and nursing home abuse. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at 515-283-2116
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