Sexual abuse in Wesley Chapel nursing homes occurs when caregivers violate the trust they were given to care for a resident and take advantage of them sexually. It can include unwanted touching, forced nudity, sexual assault, and rape. Sadly, elderly individuals are often targeted by sexual predators because they are more vulnerable and are seen as easy targets.
If your loved one was sexually abused in their assisted care facility, an experienced nursing home abuse and attorney could help you seek justice.
Types of Sexual Abusers in Nursing Homes
There are three primary groups of people who may sexually abuse residents in Wesley Chapel nursing homes: Staff members, other residents, and visitors.
Nursing Home Staff
Sexual abuse by staff members in assisted care facilities occurs all too often. Some abusers take positions in nursing homes because they know they house vulnerable people who they can prey upon without easily being caught.
It is not uncommon for residents in assisted care facilities to develop intimate relationships with one another. Oftentimes, residents are lonely and welcome any form of companionship—romantic or otherwise. Many residents may be widowed or divorced and happily consent to having a new romantic or sexual partner in their lives. However, when a sexual act occurs between two residents that is non-consensual, the nursing facility should immediately intervene and take steps to protect the victim.
Sexual predators may visit a nursing home under the guise of being a family member or friend of a resident—when in reality—they intend to cause a resident harm. Assisted care facilities should have proper procedures in place to prevent unauthorized visitors, but sadly, such regulations are not always in place or enforced.
Nursing Homes’ Duty of Care
A nursing home’s duty of care is to protect residents and patients from any type of harm including sexual abuse. Thus, a nursing home has a duty to foresee that sexual abuse could occur by their staff members, other residents, and outside visitors. Because this conduct is foreseeable, they should, for example, with their nursing home staff complete detailed background checks and check for a criminal history. They should also examine resumes and call former employers to ensure they have not had any problems at previous facilities. Additionally, nursing home managers should be consistently observing all staff members to ensure they are not engaging in any inappropriate conduct.
Regarding other residents, the facility’s duty is similar in that they should know and understand the background of that resident before that resident is admitted. If the resident has histories of sexual or physical abuse, that resident should either be denied entry into the facility or have a treatment plan and a program to ensure they do not harm other residents. Visitors also must be vetted to ensure they are related to or have a connection to a resident before being admitted into the facility.
Warning Signs an Elderly Loved One Is Being Sexually Abused
Some warning signs that a loved one is being sexually abused include changes in personality and changes in patterns of the way they go about living in the nursing home. Things like self-isolating, not wanting to participate in social activities that they normally would engage in, and becoming withdrawn when a particular employee or resident comes near them are all red flags that should not be dismissed.
Patients Particularly Vulnerable to Suffering Sexual Abuse
The types of patients that tend to be most susceptible to sexual abuse in a nursing home are demented patients and patients that are physically disabled. The demented patients often do not understand what is happening or are unable to express themselves about what happened. The physically disabled residents are not able to resist in a way that prevents themselves from being harmed.
What to Do If Your Family Member Is Experiencing Sexual Abuse in A Nursing Home
If you believe your loved one is being sexually abused in their Wesley Chapel nursing home, the first thing you should do is report the conduct to the facility. The facility should have the wrongdoer isolated so that they do not have access to your loved one. However, if the facility fails to take such corrective action, or if your family member no longer feels comfortable residing in the facility due to trauma from the incident, you should take steps to remove them from the facility.
If there are obvious signs of abuse, call the police and report it to the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. They are then required to report the incident to the Adult Protective Services central abuse hotline under Chapter 415 of the Florida Statutes. Then, get in touch with a dedicated nursing home abuse and neglect attorney like Scott Distasio at Distasio Law Firm for help seeking compensation for your loved one’s damages.
A Proactive Attorney Could Help You Seek Justice for Sexual Abuse in Wesley Chapel Nursing Homes
If you suspect your elderly family member has been sexually abused, do not delay in taking action. Reach out to a committed lawyer at Distasio Law Firm today. Our team of compassionate attorneys have handled cases involving sexual abuse in Wesley Chapel nursing homes and are prepared to take on yours. Call today.