A recent incident in a skilled care facility has led to questions about consent and dementia. An incident in a nursing home involving sexual contact between a male resident and a female resident with dementia was reported. The corporate owner of the nursing home chain, located in Pennsylvania, moved to close the out-of-state home in the wake of the nursing home abuse allegations.
A staff member at the nursing home found the female Alzheimer's patient nude in her bed. The staff person also observed the male resident in the room, pulling up his pants and returning to his wheelchair. The woman reported that she had been intimate with her late husband, indicating confusion. The state Department of Public Health has charged the facility with failure to keep the female resident safe from abuse.
The male resident had prior documentation of sexual contact with patients. His records show that he was counseled about the behavior, but no steps were taken to prevent him from gaining access to other residents in the facility. The state authorities claimed that this lack of response put all the residents of the facility at risk.
When a person begins to lose their mental abilities, consent can be a gray area. However, this situation is common enough that nursing care facilities should anticipate the need for policies and procedures that protect vulnerable residents from nursing home abuse. In Pennsylvania, a person who has been the victim of such trauma may need to file a case to seek justice for the damage that has been caused. An elder law attorney can be of assistance in filing during this trying time.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Carmichael nursing home failed to protect Alzheimer's patient from sexual abuse, state finds", Marjie Lundstrom, Accessed on Oct. 5, 2017