Vulnerable elderly and disabled individuals living in nursing homes across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania deserve the best possible care, but many nursing homes and their staff fall short on the care rendered to this defenseless segment of the population. Nursing home abuse is not uncommon, unfortunately, as was seen this week when a male nurse was charged with assaulting two elderly female residents in a Westmoreland County nursing home.
Authorities say that the nurse, Jacques Wagner, RN, “admitted to being alone in a room with the two residents when he touched them sexually.” Wagner was working at the Belair Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, located in Lower Burrell, at the time of the alleged abuse.
Wagner faces several charges in relation to the incidents. These include abuse of care of a dependent person, neglect of care of a dependent person, indecent assault without consent, and aggravated indecent assault without consent.
In the aftermath of this case, as with so many others like it across the nation, it is possible that the hiring processes of the facility will be called into question. Sources note that negligent hiring practices, negligent retention of adequate employees, and the lack of proper policies and procedures to protect residents may all come into play. This may hold particularly true because the nurse was a male nurse caring for female residents. Nursing homes hiring male nurses to care for female residents must be sure that there are procedures in place to protect them and that they are comfortable being cared for by someone of the opposite sex.
As is all too common among victims of abuse, sources say that one of the victims in this harrowing nursing abuse case was scared, at least initially, to speak up for herself. This is due to the fact that residents in nursing facilities are dependent upon caregivers for help with daily living activities, from feeding them to helping them dress and bathe. Residents often put up with or cover up for their abusers because they fear being retaliated against if they speak out.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), nursing home abuse and abuse of the elderly in general are widespread. Studies have shown that within the prior year, at least one out of every 10 elderly adults experienced abuse in some form. Mistreatment of vulnerable adults can rear its ugly head as psychological, physical, financial, or sexual abuse or neglect.
Family members must serve as advocates for nursing home residents and be always watchful for signs of abuse, including obvious signs such as bruises or bedsores, and weight loss as well as less-obvious signs including withdrawal from activities, lack of self-care, and emotional distress.
Report all instances of suspected nursing home abuse right away to the proper authorities. Reach out for advice and counsel from the Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorneys with the Weitz Firm. You can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 267-587-6240.