Social media continues to be a powerful influence on modern life. While people may not think much about the impact social media can have for those who rely on home care, a recent news story out of Houston highlights some potential problems and abuses that agencies should take note of in order to protect their clients first and foremost as well as their integrity and the workers who provide these services.
A recent lawsuit filed in Cook County, Texas alleges that nursing home employees posted a live video to Facebook in which they abused and emotionally tormented a patient, an individual who had been diagnosed with dementia.
According to the Houston Chronicle news blog, Lawsuit: Nursing home patient exposed on Facebook by workers:
“The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court claims workers at Holland Home in South Holland abused and humiliated the stroke survivor, identified in court documents as “Reggie Doe.”
The Chicago Tribune reports the lawsuit accuses the nursing home and employees of violating the Nursing Home Care Act, including causing emotional distress to a mentally disabled man, publicly revealing health information and negligent supervision. The family is seeking $50,000 in punitive damages.
Plaintiff attorney Margaret Battersby Black says the video shows the 76-year-old man in bed, surrounded by a half-dozen workers taunting and laughing at him.”
Everyone accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty in the United States, which is called due process, and while this litigation plays out, it is still an important reminder to those who provide valuable support services to elderly and disabled men and women across the country that not only is abuse wrong on every level, social media is playing a larger role in not only personal lives, but also businesses.
Home care has to fight against a long tradition of myths and misconceptions people have about these services. The vast majority of Americans don’t have any direct knowledge or experience with home health care until it’s necessary.
Using social media can be a powerful asset for agencies across the country, but one person using it to harm clients, including the elderly, can undo a tremendous amount of good for an entire industry.
While this case involves nursing home workers, there’s no reason to think it couldn’t happen within the home care sector. This is why agency owners, managers, and every home care aide and other worker must be diligent in their efforts to ensure each client is protected and their integrity held in violet across every communication platform, including and possibly especially social media these days.