Authorities sometimes slow to act in nursing home abuse cases

In our last blog post, we discussed the increasing use of "granny cams" to capture evidence that a loved one living in a nursing home in Pittsburgh or elsewhere is being abused. Many families have been forced to turn to one of these hidden cameras when they suspect that the nursing home staff is abusing their aging relative. The camera often captures abusive behavior going on behind closed doors that the victim is unable to alert relatives about.

Generally, the next step for the families is turn over the footage to the police so that a criminal investigation against the staff members and the facility can begin. Unfortunately, the level of attention that authorities give to nursing home abuse - even when there is clear visual evidence of abuse - may depend on where the assaults occurred.

For example, police in Texas did not move to arrest a nursing home aide for several months after receiving a video from the family of the aide's alleged victim. The granny cam footage appears to show the aide yanking the 98-year-old victim by her arm and hair, calling her names and stuffing a soiled towel in her mouth, among other things.

But months went by without an arrest. Police claimed that they could not locate the suspect, but a news crew quickly tracked her down. Magically, after an interview with the "disappeared" suspect appeared on the news, officers arrested her the next day.

The lesson here seems to be that families must sometimes be persistent when seeking justice for an abused nursing home resident. That may involve taking legal action in civil court.

Source: KDFW-TV, "Nursing Home Investigation - Families fight back," Becky Oliver, May 29, 2013

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