National Nursing Home Week, which runs from May 8-14, is a time to celebrate all who contribute to a supportive, caring nursing home environment, from the employees and volunteers to the residents themselves. National Nursing Home Week is also an appropriate time to raise awareness about the sad reality of nursing home abuse. In fact, despite increased attention to nursing home abuse and regulations meant to protect those who live in nursing homes, tragic stories of abuse are frighteningly commonplace. Just weeks ago, one of Massachusetts’ top-rated nursing homes fired four certified nursing assistants and replaced two administrators after a state Department of Public Health investigation uncovered multiple instances of verbal abuse and humiliation. The results of the investigation were revealed in late April and followed allegations that at least a dozen residents at the Masconomet Healthcare Center were subjected to various forms of abuse between 2010 and early 2011. The Masconomet Healthcare Center is a 123-bed facility owned by the Whittier Health Network, which operates a number of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire. The Department of Public Health investigation revealed that four certified nursing assistants regularly taunted patients with sexually explicit language, teased patients about mental or physical conditions, and deliberately provoked patients into an agitated state to avoid having to provide routine care. One patient suffering from dementia was recorded on a cell-phone camera by a nursing assistant who laughed as the patient answered questions in a confused manner. The nursing assistant then shared the video with coworkers. Another patient suffering from short-term memory loss was brought to tears by repeated requests from nursing assistants to discuss past domestic abuse. Too often, nursing home abuse is unreported. It is up to family members to watch for signs of nursing home abuse, encourage their loved ones to talk with them about neglect or abuse, and to report any suspected abuse or neglect. This year’s National Nursing Home Week theme is “Fulfilling the Promise.” With increased vigilance regarding the symptoms of nursing home abuse, we can fulfill the promise to the millions of Americans who rely on the attentive care of nursing home staff. If you believe a family member is the victim of nursing home abuse, please contact the Mobile, Alabama, nursing home abuse lawyers at Long & Long.

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