If you have a loved one in a nursing home you may experience a certain amount of anxiety and worry about their care. After all, stories of nursing home abuse are common in the media. And while we all hope that our loved ones will be well cared for in our absence, most of us cannot help but be concerned about various forms of elder abuse.
That level of concern is exactly what prompted a North Carolina woman to install a hidden camera in her mother’s nursing home room. In this case, the woman trusted her instincts and consequently, put a stop to abuse.
Nursing Home Abuse Caught on Camera
In summer 2019, Renee Herwin became suspicious the care her 86-year-old mother was receiving. Her mother is blind and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Because of her suspicions, she installed a hidden camera in her mother’s room at Peak Resources nursing home. The camera is tiny, hidden in a picture frame. Herwin placed the frame on the counter in her mother’s room. What she saw was horrifying.
Within 24 hours, Herwin had proof that her mother was being mistreated. Video evidence shows a nursing assistant yelling at her mother while changing her. There is also footage of physical abuse, with the nursing assistant violently moving the resident across the bed. The woman cries out in pain during the video and asks “have I done something?”
The nursing assistant’s only response is “Devil’s wife.”
Naturally, Herwin was livid about what she saw. She says that he expected to see some form of abuse or neglect, but could not imagine the violent abuse caught on camera. She believed her mother was not being properly supervised and perhaps was not being fed properly. The violent abuse and yelling was more than she could stand.
Daughter Addresses Nursing Home Abuse
While many nursing home abuse allegations cannot be easily proven, Herwin had definitive proof that her mother was being abused. Video evidence shows two nursing assistants abusing her. Herwin took the video to the nursing home administrator, who immediately fired the two employees. He also called police and the Department of Social Services (DSS).
DSS completed a report that confirms the abuse, but the social worker did not open an investigation. The reason given was that the employees had been fired by the time the report was completed. Police also investigated and wanted to press charges. Herwin says that the Assistant District Attorney called her several days after the police investigation and told her charges were not going to be filed.
Herwin questioned this decision, especially because without consequences, the two nursing assistants could move on to work at different facilities with nothing on their record to show a history of abuse. This places more nursing home residents at risk. According to Herwin the Assistant D.A. simply stated “You want me to destroy this woman’s life!” The Assistant D.A. claims he did not see any criminal behavior in the video and ended the conversation.
Daughter Continues Fight for Justice
In response to no charges, Herwin is seeking the help of local news and media outlets. She fears that other nursing home residents will suffer what her mother did at the hands of abusive nursing assistants. She fears that employers will have no way to identify that the two nursing assistants were ever terminated on the basis of nursing home abuse. Herwin continues her fight for justice, saying,
“They need to have consequences for their actions! If you don’t have any consequences, it’s just going to continue to get worse.”
Herwin is right. Without being held accountable, the two nursing assistants may very well move on to other facilities. They may continue a pattern of abuse and violence, which could escalate over time.
Trust Your Instincts If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse occurs in many ways. Sometimes there are few signs that something is amiss. Other times, there are very obvious injuries that cannot be ignored. At Nursing Home Abuse Center, our team works with families experiencing all sorts of nursing home abuse and neglect. If there is one piece of advice that we can offer above all else, it is to trust your instincts.
If you feel that something is not right with your loved one’s care, take action right away. Here are a few things that you can do to protect your loved one and find out for sure if nursing home abuse or neglect is occurring:
- Talk to your loved one about their experience.
- Talk to your loved one’s doctor about your concerns and address any symptoms.
- Remove your loved one from the home for a short period of time and see how his or her health and wellbeing changes, if at all.
- Be a consistent presence at the nursing home. Visit your loved one, attend events, join them for meals, and plan visits during doctor and medication rounds.
- If you notice problems with care, hygiene or the services your loved one should be receiving, talk to the nursing home administrator.
- If you do not get adequate answers from the nursing home, you can contact DSS, the Long Term Care Ombudsman, or Adult Protective Services (APS). Each of these organizations can investigate concerns of elder abuse.
In addition to these options, you may also find it helpful to speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer. Adding a lawyer to your arsenal can help you ensure that your loved one’s legal rights are also protected.
Legal Help You Can Trust
Your loved one has the right to quality care that meets accepted standards. You don’t have to settle for less than this – and you shouldn’t. At Nursing Home Abuse Center, we can help you determine if abuse or neglect is occurring. We will work with you and any additional parties involved, including APS or DSS to ensure your loved one is safe.
Furthermore, if abuse or neglect is occurring and your loved one suffers harm, we will fight to get justice for your family. All you need to do is reach out to us. We offer free consultations, so you have nothing to lose. To learn more, call us at 1-888-548-9636.