Q: Do nursing home residents have a right to privacy?
It’s never easy to place a loved one in an assisted living or nursing home facility, even if the elder is in agreement with the move. There will always be some suspicion about what really goes on behind closed doors and whether the care being provided is sufficient. Are our loved ones truly safe from nursing home accidents such as dangerous falls or painful bedsores that may come from a negligent or neglectful staff? Is there something even more sinister going on? Allegations of elder abuse and invasion of privacy by caregivers are rampant in nursing homes -including two separate nursing homes both located in Oswego, New York. It’s not uncommon to hear about worried family members sneaking hidden video cameras in to try to capture any abuse on camera. But sometimes those involved may implicate themselves. Remarkably, there’s is a new “low" in elder abuse and privacy invasion these days. It’s bad enough that staff subjects the residents to physical or emotional abuse or humiliating violations of their right to privacy, but they seemingly lack the basic intelligence, decency, and restraint to know not to compound their unconscionable actions by sharing their incriminating pictures and videos with others directly or through social media. Residents might be photographed going to the bathroom, lying in bed exposed, or engaging in embarrassing behaviors. Sometimes video may be taken of residents being taunted and abused by staff. Then photos and videos are shared where they are discovered and reported by co-workers, family, friends, or strangers. Depending on the situation and the rules of the facility, the workers involved may be counseled, disciplined, fired, and even prosecuted. Recently, four former aides at two separate Oswego nursing homes were the subjects of such allegations. They were charged with felonies and misdemeanors surrounding alleged pictures of residents in “undignified poses" and videos of the staff abusing and taunting residents, including endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and willful violation of the public health law. Most nursing homes, including the two in question, have policies in effect prohibiting the use of cell phones and/or picture-taking in areas where residents are to avoid any intentional or unintentional invasion of their privacy. If you or your loved one has been the victim of a nursing home accident or has suffered a personal injury as a result of the negligence of another, contact the New York City law firm of Jaroslawicz & Jaros at 800.269.2780 for a free consultation.