WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal agencies that oversee nursing homes announce plans to stop employees from taking demeaning photographs and videos of residents and posting them on social media.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) say in a memo Friday state health departments should start checking on all nursing home policies and make sure they prevent employees taking rude photos of residents.
The memo also calls on state officials to quickly investigate such complaints and report offending workers to state licensing agencies for investigation and possible discipline.
The move comes after ProPublica reports that document abuses in nursing homesand assisted living centers using social media platforms like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
One of the complaints says a former Wisconsin nurse shared photos of elderly residents naked, vomiting, and covered in feces.
Another says a New York nurse harassed a resident in a wheelchair and posted the video to Facebook. Investigators say the video shows the aide grabbing the resident’s hair and saying things like, “The boss lady said that if you don’t wash the dishes, she will slap the black off you…and she called you a b****.”
“Treating a nursing home resident in any manner that does not uphold a resident’s sense of self-worth and individuality dehumanizes the resident and creates an environment that perpetuates a disrespectful and/or potentially abusive attitude towards the resident(s),” says the government memo signed by David Wright, director of the CMS survey and certification group.
CMS says nursing homes have a responsibility to protect residents’ privacy, prohibit abuse, provide training on how to prevent abuse, and investigate all complaints. If homes fail to do so, they can face citations, fines, and possible termination from the Medicare program.